Source: Sherman Publications

Meet the team behind the robot

by Trevor Keiser

April 03, 2013

Oxford High School’s robotics team TORC Team 2137 kicked off another season of robotic competitions a couple weeks ago.

This year’s challenge is called “Ultimate Ascent,” according to the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) website

“Ultimate Ascent is played between two alliances of three teams each. Each alliance competes by trying to score as many flying discs into their goals as possible during the two-minute and 15-second match. Discs scored in higher goals score alliances more points. Matches end with robots attempting to climb up pyramids located near the middle of the field,” said the website

So just how is the robot made?

Well it starts out with the CAD team, where the parts are drawn on the computer, which is something Titus Shumaker likes.

“It’s interesting to take the concept and make it on the computer and send all the parts to the fabrication team to make,” he said.

Shumaker said he likes being apart of the robotics team because it presents a new challenge every year.

“It’s kind of cool how you get a new challenge and you have to come up with a new solution for every single challenge and issue,” he said. “You have to develop the solution and work with a bunch of people.”

CAD team partner Drew Sedam agreed.

“I enjoy just being with a ton of people,” he said. “We all like doing engineering and just kind of being together and achieving a common goal.”

Devon King, who is a part of the Fabrication Team said he enjoys taking the drawings from CAD and “turning them into life and making them into parts”

“I’ve tried CAD (and) tried electrical but didn’t like it at all,” Sedam said. “Fabrication is a lot of hands on work.”

Victoria Funke also likes “fab” for the hands on.

“I think the torch and the welder makes me feel powerful,” she said. “And it’s nice to know I can out do boys in something else.”

Yachen Yao said the best part of being in fab was being able to yell at CAD.

“They give us terrible drawings,” he said.

So once parts are created, somebody has to actually put them together. That’s what the mechanical team is for.

“We are the ones that actually put the nuts and bolts into the robot and we’re the ones that do all the testing to see what would work when we actually figure out what our game is supposed to be,” said Riley McGarry. “I love being linked up with the (mechanical) team. It’s awesome.”

“We get to do a lot of fun stuff,” continued McGarry. “We get to do some measuring and get to use all the big tools in the back (like) saws (and) drills.”

But what good would a robot be without wiring and computer systems? This is where the Programming and Electrical Team comes in.

“I would say my favorite part about programming is just going in and figuring out what’s wrong with the code,” said first year robotics team member Eric Myllyoja “Once you do get it figured out, why what’s wrong is wrong, it’s really fun to know how to fix it.”

Wes McBride said who’s been with TORC for awhile said he “grew into” programming and electrical.

“It’s nice to just hangout and program on a laptop for awhile,” he said. “It’s very leisurely, but it’s also very fun.”

Eric Gesie on the other hand said when he first joined TORC his freshmen year he wanted to be a programmer, but he couldn’t be a programmer.

“My sophomore year I joined the programming and electrical team and I still couldn’t be a programmer because we had no electrical people, so I was forced to be an electrical person,” he said. “But now I love it (being on the electrical team).”

This year’s robot is named “Rexy” because for its tall stature, short “arms” and large “head” like a T-Rex. They even added metal “teeth” and large eyes to further develop the T-Rex look.

While CAD, Fabrication, Mechanical and programming and electrical are the teams that create the robot, TORC has two other teams that play a significant role for the robotics program.

The Media Team does the videos, pictures, website and posters.

“I basically manage everything that goes up onto the website doing what needs to be done and making sure that’s done,” said Brandon Cooley.

Meanwhile Aidan Schieber handles all the photos and video.

“With the video production I have complete access to any of the equipment the school uses and it’s just great using it,” he said.

Jade Vokes and Devon Graves make the team’s posters.

I like the creative things,” Graves said. “We can incorporate our own style.”

Vokes, who also does some small animations, agreed.

“You get to put your own little work into it and everybody can agree with you on it,” she said.

Lastly there is the Chairman’s Team.

“Chairman’s is the most prestigious award in FIRST,” said Julia Reynolds “What we have to do to get that is we have to write a 10,000 character essay and then seven, 500 character essays and it explains what we’ve done throughout the year. Not just building our robot, but what we do to help the community (and) spread the message of FIRST.”

“It also describes how we take all sorts of people from our school to do robotics. It’s not just the nerds that are doing robotics,” added Stefanie-Ann Chizmadia. “We got people who play on sports teams, music and all sorts of things. It doesn’t matter who you are, you will find a place here (where you fit in).”

Mentor Kim Shumaker said the students are “getting some skills they can walk out the door with”

“We have companies now that are actually interested in kids interning with them in the summer time,” she said. “For them (the students) to say ‘oh yeah I know how to use a welder’ or what have you is awesome.”

For more information about the robotics program visit