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March 20. 2014 8:51PM

Pinkerton robotics team ready to head west


Members of the Pinkerton Academy robotics team look on as Mike Locke, left, uses a remote control to maneuver a robot during a recent practice for the Vex Robotic World Championships in April. Standing with Locke are, from left to right, Alex Mielens, Tony Mastromarino and Nick Krueger. (HUNTER McGEE/Union Leader Correspondent)

DERRY — The Pinkerton Academy robotics team is headed to the Vex Robotics World Championships in April thanks to their performance at the recent New England Regionals.

The team made it to the finals and emerged in second place earlier this month, earning a trip to the championship in Anaheim, Calif.
 
 
“We are all definitely excited about making it to worlds,” said Mike Locke, the team’s co-captain.

Preparation for their moment on the world stage began back in August with design sketches, Locke said. The team then built robot prototypes and worked to perfect their creations.

Although the robots can’t take out the trash yet, they are mobile and capable of picking up and moving objects.

Everyone on the team plays a role, said Locke, who serves as co-captain along with Christian Albertelli.

Sean Lahey is the team’s designer, and Alex Mielens and Nick Kreuger are the builders.

Tony Mastromarino serves as the team’s lead programmer.

“We all became well-rounded in what we do,” Locke said.
 
 
He explained the way the competition works recently at Pinkerton as the team was getting ready for the championships.
 
 
Teams are required to build robots out of materials from the Vex Company, which supplies primary parts like the wheels and gears. The robots also have the ability to use pneumatics to run certain contraptions.
 
 
This year’s game challenge is called “Toss Up,” Locke said. Robots are controlled remotely and move around a surface called the field. The object is to maneuver the robots in place to pick up and toss two different objects—a beach-ball sized object and much smaller object— into goals at the far end of the field.
 
 
“It’s all about strategy and scoring and seeing how fast you can score, and how well you move the game objects around the field,” Locke said.

The Vex World Championships are scheduled for April 23-26 at the Anaheim Convention Center.


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