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Justin Franz represents Cotter on local robotics team

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If robots are taking over the world, one Cotter senior may be able to order them around.

Justin Franz represents Cotter in the Winona Senior High’s robotics team, a team that is primarily composed of Winona High students, but also includes three students from Cotter: Sam King(9th), Jae Park(12th), and Justin Franz(12th).

Franz has been a vital part of the robotics team for five years now, since 8th grade when his friend encouraged him to join.

Franz said  since he first joined robotics, he “[has] not looked back. In fact, I wish that I could have been involved with this program at a much younger age.”

Throughout his five years with the team, he has seen a few changes take place. When he  joined the robotics program, it was a relatively small program, however, it has since expanded.

Now, the Winona Robotics program has expanded with FLL (Lego robotics) for 4-6th grade, FTC (Tetrix robotics) for 7-12th grade, and FRC (custom 120 pound robots) for 7-12th grade,” Franz said.

The robotics team has the unique opportunity to work with professional engineers in the Winona area who come from companies such as Fastenal and TRW. These engineers work with the students to help them learn the basics behind engineering and building robots.

The robotics team practiced almost every weekday after school until around 6 pm, along with participating in a scrimmage with local robotics teams, all to prepare for a robotics competition that took place April 4 to April 7 of 2018 in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The scrimmage was a good way for the team to see how well-prepared they were for the big competition. Their robot was not totally finished at that point, but they were able to find a few areas in which they needed improvement.

For example, Franz realized that “we need[ed] to be able to move more quickly on the field.” With things like these fixed, the robotics team was able to go to La Crosse on April 4, feeling well-prepared.

To see for myself what a robotics competition consisted of, I decided to join Franz and his robotic team on Saturday, April 7th. I was blown away by how big it was and how many people were there.

There were over 50 teams competing, and over 1,000 people attending. The actual competition was a very interesting concept. Basically, there was a game “field,” and on that field, on both sides, there were countless blocks. There were three different robotics teams on each side, who would work together to beat the other side. The way that a side would win is if they had the scale in the middle of the field tilted in their favor for more time. Each side was supposed to transport the blocks from one side of the field onto their side of the scale, hoping to tilt the balance in their favor, and thus win the game.

The various teams from the area came with their robots, ready to compete.

Ultimately, the Cotter Robotics team did not continue on to the final round, but they did win one of their two games, and were happy with how their robot performed.

As the robotics competition ended, so did Justin Franz’s five years being involved with the robotics team.

Working with robotics affirmed my intentions to study engineering in college. In addition to this, it gave me a lot of real world project experience,” said Franz. He is happy with the years he spent with the robotics team, and looks forward to seeing how his experiences with robotics will help him in his future ventures.

 

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Justin Franz represents Cotter on local robotics team