Community Connection: Patrick Mulcahy and Robots
Children are the future. The future is robotics.
The two collide in a church basement in east Duluth where the Devil Dogs and the Rogue Cats (two youth robotics teams) gather to design, build, and compete. Many of the youth involved in the highest levels have been working together since grade school and the program offers Lego robotics experiences for students as young as kindergarten.
The actual matches are two-and-a-half-minutes long and consist of three different phases. “The autonomous part is thirty seconds,” says head coach Patrick Mulcahy. "The rest of it is driver controlled. The last thirty seconds of that is endgame." Each year comes with a new focus for the robots. This year's task is to design and construct a robot that will be able to grab a small cone, lift it up, and ultimately drop it onto a junction - one of many yellow poles arranged throughout a small, contained section on the floor.
Robotics is a team sport in many ways. Running the robot is a two-person job; one to drive the robot and another to handle the additional mechanics. "Each team has four people on it. You have two drivers," says Mulcahy. "You have your driver coach and then you have a human player." This allows team members to focus and thereby help out with the common goal.
On Thursday, Community Connection will focus on a couple of the young members of the robotics teams and the value they find in being involved.