Divide By Zero gearing up for success

Programming a robot isn’t an easy task, but the NPHS Robotics team is meeting the challenge with success.


Submitted Photo

Members of the NPHS Robotics Teams pose for a picture after their competition Saturday, January 5th where they placed 9th out of 26th.

TOWAMENCIN- Programming a robot is not a common skill that just any high school student can complete. It requires extensive knowledge of technology, engineering principles, and programming. These are skills that four North Penn High school students can accomplish as members of the robotics team Divide By Zero. 

The robotics team is a First Tech Challenge group comprised of four members: Brandon Vu, Bonnie Magland, Jake Holmberg, and Nicholas Rizzio. On Saturday January 5th, the team placed 9th out of 26th during qualifiers. Scoring during competitions depends on a variety of factors.

“We have to write an engineering notebook to outline our design process. Our notebook as well as our presentation is graded,” explained junior Brandon Vu, team captain of Divide By Zero.

Students are challenged to build and program a robot that completes certain tasks. Each task earns the team a certain number of points.

“Each year the tasks change, but it always starts off as 30 seconds of autonomous, 1.5 minutes of driver controlled, and 30 seconds of end game,” described Bonnie Magland.

Autonomous means that the robot moves on its own without human intervention. The first task is for the robot to start hanging from a hook, and lower itself to the ground.

“There are also two areas designated as “craters” in opposite corners of the field and “depots” in the other two corners. Inside the craters there are wiffle balls called silver minerals and yellow cubes called gold minerals. During the driver controlled period, you collect the minerals and place them in a lander or your team’s depot,” added Magland.

The robot must also detect and move the gold cubes out of the wiffle ball during autonomous mode. End game is driver controlled as well, where students can either end by rehanging the robot or parking it in a crater. Divide By Zero won the Design Award and placed third in the Think Award during Saturday’s competition.

“You can progress from the qualifier to states. We did not [qualify], but we have a couple more qualifiers to do so,” said Magland.

The team’s next competition is February 2nd, where they will attempt to qualify for states and gain more awards. February’s competition will have similar tasks the robot must complete. Divide by Zero is very student driven with all members collaborating to transform their ideas into a functioning robot.