SYRACUSE — Wawasee Robotics team 574D has twice qualified for the Vex Worlds Robotics competition, is a state champion runner-up, a five-time tourney champion, and a one time Judges Award winner. This pedigree sets 574D in the family of world caliber competitors.
Cory Dunivan — Senior, robotics engineering notebook creator, life Scout (second highest Boy Scout rank), theater, radio and TV broadcasting, Pizza Hut employee
Jack Collins — Junior, robot programmer, WHS super mileage electronics engineer, “mad scientist”
Nathan Smith — Sophomore, robot driver, “gamer extraordinaire”
Noah Beckner — Sophomore, robot builder, working toward Eagle Scout rank, WHS band member, theater, pulse jet engine aficionado
Wesley Hays — Sophomore, robot builder, working toward Eagle Scout rank, WHS band member
These young men have worked together since sixth grade. They started competitive robotics in First Lego League with Ryan Edgar as head coach of the FLL program. They won the Core Values Award in eighth grade at state. They learned cooperation and teamwork early.
This season started when VEX revealed the 2018-19 “Turning Point” challenge at Vex Worlds in April 2018. Planning began on the six hour bus ride home and was documented in the team engineering notebook. The robot has undergone a number of changes since then to end up where it is now. Even between state (in March) and worlds (coming up in April) the team has rebuilt the robot to lower its center of gravity and reduce the chance of tipping over.
It is important to remember these robots are not toys, they range in price from $2,000 to $3,000. The team does not have instructions or plans to follow. They are presented with the field, game elements and rules. Teams research and develop their robots from the ground up. They are engineered for each year’s competition after the game revealed at world championships, so they are unable to reuse or copy robots from previous years.
These boys meet at least once a week for a scheduled build session, but they frequently get together more often. It is not uncommon for them to work through weekends and vacations on the robot. Jack has a field at his house in a space they call “the war room.” Often other Wawasee robotics teams go to the war room to scrimmage and practice with each other.
Robotics is different from most other sports. 574D often shares parts, helps other teams with their robots and works hard to make their competition better. The “co-opetition” makes each team better and increases the quality of competition. “The skills that robotics teams are developing are the desired attributes employers are looking for,” said Wawasee Superintendent Dr. Tom Edington.
“It is truly amazing to watch as 574D builds their robot. The boys are passionate and driven,” said head coach Jed Wandland. “These students exemplify everything that a future leader should be. They take initiative, show incredible dedication, and demonstrate a responsibility through stewardship of the activity and those that participate in it.”