Ridgebotics season starts and with it community is found


Claire Kizer

Ridgebotics students work on electrical wiring for a prototype.

Claire Kizer, Head Copy Editor

The clatter of keyboards, the soft murmurings of work, and an intense focus all around is what you will find in the workshop after school. The cause of this environment? Ridgebotics. Fossil Ridge High School’s robot engineering team. However, what is inside this hidden gem of a club is much more than simply building robots. It is a place to gain real world experience, problem solve, and most importantly, a place to find community. 

There are four primary teams in Ridgebotics. Electrical, programming, mechanical, and business. Electrical deals with wiring and getting the parts of the robot to physically move. Programming, of course, programs what the robot should do. Mechanical uses the computer software Computer-aided design (CAD). Through this, they 3D model parts for their robot in the first two weeks of the season and then ship them off to be officially made.

The business program is the most important team. Without this dedicated group of students, Ridgebotics would have little to no funding to support themselves. This team is tasked with calling businesses to sponsor Ridgebotics. Some days during the pre-season, everyone does business work.

Senior Rachel Price has been heavily involved in the business side of Ridgebotics for all four years of her high school career, “We raise money through a silent auction that we have every year, that’s a really big one for us. And then we do concessions for the Budweiser Events Center sometimes, which brings in some money, too.”

This challenging work does have quite a few benefits. By doing this, students get a lot of real world experience. They have to fundraise, budget, and deal with unexpected financial troubles, all things that occur when you are an adult.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect coming to a robotics team to learn event planning skills, but you kind of get everything,” says Price.

Throughout the season, there are mentors, adults with experience, available to assist in every aspect, but they only give little pushes in the right direction. Everything else is entirely student run. 

“You may be looking at these three designs, and you’re like, ‘I don’t know which one to do’, a mentor may just guide you on the pros and cons of each. And then the students can make a decision off of that. They might also be able to introduce a new design that you hadn’t thought of before,” says Ridgebotics captain, Ryan Brittingham.

During the pre-season, first semester, the Ridgebotics schedule is quite relaxed with only two hours every Tuesday and Thursday. Once January hits, though, it is go time. Students have practice for about four hours on weekdays and six hours on Saturdays, their only day off being Sunday. This year, their season will last for about eight weeks with one competition to show what they can do, and deadlines are tight.

“That date doesn’t change, we have to have a robot by that day. We can’t push that back, we can’t change that, so you got to make sure that we’re on top of things and moving forward,” Brittingham states.

The game for this year is stacking cones on a pole, moving blocks onto elevated surfaces, and other related challenges. The primary focus is creating a functioning robot arm.

“Arms on robots are something that we, historically as a team, have not done well with. So I’d really like to get a good arm design that we can reliably take inspiration from,” says Brittingham.

Freshman Oliver Cossins works on robot piece in CAD. (Claire Kizer)

Later down the line, there is one night a year where the team can show off all their progress to the community, and that is with their robot reveal night Friday, March 3. They host a silent auction to raise money and reveal their robot to the world.

“It’s really great for parents because they get to see what their student has been spending 20 or so hours a week for the past eight weeks building,’ says Brittingham.

However, the most valuable part of Ridgebotics is the community you will find. The relationships made will be remembered far longer than whether a season was successful or not. You start as strangers but end up as a close-knit group of friends.

“It’s fun. I mean, it’s, it’s great. Because it isn’t just like you show up with a bunch of random people, and then you work and then go home. You show up to a group of your friends like the, the team is incredibly close,” says Brittingham.

You discover things about yourself you never would have otherwise. You may join because you were intrigued by one thing or another, but what really keeps you loving it are the people you spend every day with.

“I would just say, like, it’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had in high school. I just, I wouldn’t have been able to find this community and discover all these interests if it weren’t for this team,” says Price.