Team 525 preps for contests

The robotics team is getting prepared for the Iowa Regionals on March 21-24.The Swart Dogs have to build a robot that weighs less than or equal to 120 pounds and make their robot complete a given task in a certain amount of time without any physical connection.

“Our name, Swart Dogs, comes from our mentor [STEM coordinator Kenton] Swartley,” sophomore Ella Rekow said. The Swart Dogs have 20-40 members and more than 15 mentors to help them throughout their journey with robots.

Teamwork is the key to robotics; in order to succeed, the students have to collaborate with each other. “I can’t imagine building a 120 pound robot and then program it all by myself. I would need my team for all of that,” Rekow said.

The work distribution amongst team members increases the dependency ratio, which not just helps students to gain confidence but also helps with building trust and socialization.

Students do all kinds of different tasks and get to have real life experiences.

“One day I’m programming, and the other day I’m cutting metal. That’s just how it is,” Rekow said. “I am learning C++, which is amazing. Normally, I would’ve been waiting for college; I’m learning stuff that I probably won’t be able to learn outside of robotics, and that makes me so happy,” Rekow said.

The Swart Dogs work very hard every week; they have weekly meetings for updates every Tuesday night, and they are required to work on their project three days of week for an hour. It may look like a lot of work, but for some, it’s not enough.

“I go there literally five to seven days a week, and I end up spending at least 2.5 to 3 hours each time,” Rekow said. “The most important thing is to be able to manage your time, because then you have room for everything,”

Unlike what most people think, robotics is not just for students who are considering a career in the STEM field. “I have a lot of people come to me and say that they are not smart enough to join robotics, or there are people that don’t even see robotics as an option because they don’t want to be engineers. I know people who enjoy robotics a lot even if they don’t want to become engineers. It’s just not about that.” Rekow said.

After their practice for testing on Feb. 18, The Swart Dogs are going up to North Dakota for their first regionals on Feb. 28.

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