Steamworks’ Teamwork: The PGHS Robotics Team’s Latest Competition

Written by Oscar Scholin

In March, the PGHS Robotics Team will compete in the FIRST Steamworks Competition. The competition involves two alliances consisting of a few different high school teams, each attempting to win a match. The challenge is for the teams to build robots which have the ability to shoot Wiffle Balls (the “fuel”) from the court into “boilers” to fuel the alliance’s “steamship.” Additionally, the robots should be able to collect and deliver gears to the human pilots on the ship. The pilots can then place the gears on parts of the ship, enabling several rotors to turn. Teams who manage to get all four of the rotors turning receive additional points.

The PGHS Robotics Team plans to tackle this challenge with teamwork, and loads of it. Henry Loh, junior and lead programmer, believes that this year’s competition “…requires much more skill and effort…” than that of all of the previous competitions.

Zeus Marquez, junior and Team Captain, takes a different stance, stating that this competition differs because “…the individual teams are a bit more independent from the alliance, causing the teams to create more multi-purpose robots.”

Luca Lauritzen, junior and new member, continues “…this year we are tackling more difficult aspects of engineering with such things as vision processing and a moving turret.” Lauritzen adds that one of the challenges faced by the team was “…staying within the set volume parameters…” and how the robot will actually function. He also addressed the issue of how to make the coffin (the Wiffle Ball holder) fit fifty balls.

For Vanessa Barragan,  junior and new member, the challenge was to create a design to successfully collect and deliver gears.

Marquez also adds that the team plans to use vision processing to assist the robot’s shooting ability along with a moving turret, increasing its accuracy.

Many on the team hope that their extra hard work will pay off and permit them to win the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Championships.

Team members each have goals of completing their own parts of the robot, many of whom are new to the team. However, in addition to winning the championships, Lauritzen wishes “…to gain engineering experience…,” as his goal is to become an engineer.

Barragan recommends “To anyone looking to join the Robotics Team, be eager to learn and unafraid to ask questions…you will learn immensely….”

However, Marquez warns that “…laziness and an inability to work do not mix well with this program.”

If you are at all interested, please talk to a robotics member and decide if you might like to join.

The Robotics Team will provide you with an education and hands on experience with designing and engineering robots.

If you are curious, you can watch the basic rules of the competition here, or check out FRC’s website here.  If you wish to support the robotics team, you may do so by donating at this website: Any contribution greatly benefits the team, allowing for the purchase of new parts and their participation in more competitions.