The Dream Machine

A look at the work of Notre Dame’s talented robotics team.

By: Evin Santana ’19

While Notre Dame is known for its outstanding sports teams, there is one team at Notre Dame that is commonly overlooked. Since 2008, the RoboKnights have had their fair share of competitions.

They partake in two major competitions under the program “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” also known as FIRST.  The FIRST competitions are Tech Challenge (FTC) and FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC). The program has different competitions for all grades.

The RoboKnights work on constructing Hortin, the robot for the FRC competition.

FTC, which takes place during the fall semester, is a competition for grades 7-12 where teams must first design, then build and program a robot that can play a floor game against another team’s. FRC, which takes place during the spring semester, is for teams from grades 9-12. The challenge is to design, build and program a robot that is able to compete head-on on a specialized playing field.

The RoboKnights are split into JV and Varsity. For FTC, students who are just starting on the team will start on the JV team and move to Varsity after 2 years. For the FRC competitions, the Varsity and JV teams join together.

“Right now the team is working on building a bigger robot for a game that was just released in January. So they have six weeks to build that and then we go out to Ventura for [FRC], a three day, two night competition,” said Mr. Miguel Hungerford, one of the assistant coaches of the team.

Bryce Jacks ‘20 assembles his piece of Hortin in preparation for competition.

FRC is their next, upcoming competition on February 28th, so the team is working hard on their robot. “This year we have to create a robot that can move blocks and put them into columns,” said Dante Azplicueta ‘19. “FRC is the bigger competition for us because it’s not just Varsity or JV, the two teams work together to build a robot for the challenge.”

Like all teams at Notre Dame, the RoboKnights have built a certain team dynamic. “They spend enough time together that they are friends,” said Mr. Hungerford. “They all have similar interests. They get along but it gets a little bit crazy in here sometimes. They almost have to get along to work and build one thing that actually functions.”

The team meets after school Monday-Thursday from 3-5, but when it is closer to their competition, they sometimes meet on Saturdays.

Good Luck to Notre Dame’s RoboKnights as they prepare their robot for their upcoming competition.

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