The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Robotics Club tours machine shop and celebrates the season


January 19, 2017

Robotics club and families at Williams Precision Machining with Greg Somero on the right side.

Story and photos submitted by Jessica Vik and Ron Wright

The Wahkiakum 4-H Robotics Club took a field trip to Williams Precision Machine on Tuesday evening, January 10. The owner, Kurt Williams, grew up in Cathlamet, giving him a soft spot for our community. He welcomed the idea of having our kids tour his company. Kurt's right hand man, Greg Somero, was our tour guide. Greg explained a little about each of the machines they have in the shop. The kids got to see how the software is used for programming the machine to get the job done. It was neat to see the older kids connect what Greg does on the job with what they are doing in school and in robotics. Our coaches did a great job helping the kids connect the two together by using experiences from their past robotics competition. Even 6-year old Wyatt had lots of questions.

The highlight of the trip was getting to see a CNC machine in action. Greg programmed the machine to show us the process of making a key chain fob out of aluminum from start to finish, taking about eight minutes. The design has our kicking mule and "Wahkiakum Robotics" engraved on a block. Thank you Kurt and Greg for the gift you gave our kids and the time it took in educating them in this trade.

A group picture was taken with Greg in front of their CNC Milling Machine wearing their new shirts made by J and L Ventures here in Cathlamet. Thank you to our sponsors for helping us to purchase these shirts: Cathlamet Building Materials, Ohrberg Excavation, Moore Auto and Marine, Farmers Insurance, Backman's Fish, The Video Store, and Cathlamet Dental.

The evening ended with a jovial team and family dinner at Maria's Restaurant in Cathlamet. Maria's made a great spread of food and had wonderful service with a smile. One young team member summed up the day for everyone: "I had a great time today, and this food is so good! I am coming back again and again!"

On Saturday January 14 the Wahkiakum First Tech Challenge 4-H Robotics team traveled to Tacoma for an all-day tournament to compete with 32 other teams from across SW Washington in the Inter-league Championships. In the tournament, two teams pair up in an alliance to compete against two other teams to score points accomplishing designated tasks. Needless to say, there is some "unintentional" rough-and-tumble between the four robots all tightly packed in the 12' by 12' arena. We extended our perfect streak from previous tournaments as our robot continued to run perfectly in all five of its matches this day. We won our first two matches then lost our next three even though our robot continued to perform very well. We did not qualify to move on to the State Championships. Earlier in the day we completed the judged team presentations where each team presents their Engineering Notebook, Business Plan and Community Involvement activities. We sorely missed our team captain, Julianne, who missed the trip due to illness.

Our team was reminded again about gracious professionalism from other teams when they learned we forgot our USB adaptor back home. Two teams offered to help us out. Also team Sky Patrol noticed Camille was having difficulty driving our top-heavy, very fast, robot in a non-jerky manner. They offered tips on how to operate the remote better, improving her driving. How nice it is to compete with teams that are each trying to do their own best, but also to help every other team do their best.

Our performance on and off the field, in the judging interview and Engineering Notebook, and back home in the county earned us our third place award for the "Connect Trophy." The "Connect" is given to that team which best connects with their own community, other students, and local businesses, while always demonstrating gracious professionalism and enthusiasm in the competition ... they "connect" with everyone. This was a great honor - please congratulate our team members!

When asked what was your favourite part of the day we heard:

Lydia and Peter: "Watching all of the robots drive around and compete."

Camille: "Doing the presentations."

Damaris: "Watching Camille drive our robot and light up all the beacons on one run! And singing our robot jingle to the judges."

Chuckie: "Repairing and then watching our autonomous programs run every time."

Julianne: (she followed our progress electronically from her sick bed back home) "I am so proud of our team."

We again would like to thank our sponsors for making this all possible: Wahkiakum 4-H, Wahkiakum School District, Cathlamet Building Materials, Ohrberg Excavation, Moore Auto and Marine, Farmers Insurance, Backman's Fish, The Video Store and Cathlamet Dental. Two special shout-out "thank-yous" to parents for actions during the tourney: Chuck Barton for providing safety glasses to teams and for making an emergency run for parts, and to Ross Kolditz for a much-needed lunch run.

Next actions for the Wahkiakum 4-H Robotics club: field trip to Boeing Everett and Nichols Marine, train trip to Oakland CA to tour TBD robotics companies, MATE Underwater Robots competition, Hayez Dayez Robotics Invitational. If you are interested in finding out more about our club that prepares kids for the real world, contact any of our Wahkiakum school principals or Wahkiakum 4-H.


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