Jacqui Nickell
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by: Anna Knickel, Class of 2023

This past Saturday, Lakehill's veteran robotics team, the Lakehill Bionicles (team #14904), competed at a Qualifier for North Texas. Competing against 32 teams, the Lakehill Bionicles won 3 out of their 5 matches and came in 14th place, providing their best field performance this season. Unfortunately, the team did not advance to Regionals but took home two awards (thus bringing the Bionicles's awards to four this season). The Lakehill Bionicles won the 2nd Place Design award - in recognition of their robot's 3D-printed mint-colored fins. These fins weren't only for aesthetic purposes, but also helped the robot line up to score during matches - an innovative element that no other team possessed. The team also won the 1st Place Think award for their detailed and thorough design process illustrated in the team's Engineering Portfolio (a document highlighting the team's journey throughout the season); as well as the mathematical formulas and stress tests used to analyze the robot.  

Throughout the year, the team has designed, built, and programmed one of the best robots the program has ever seen under the tutelage of head coach Mia Musselman and assistant coach Adam Jochelson. With the robot, the team competes in the FIRST Tech Challenge, a program that connects thousands of robotics programs from around the world. The team uses CAD (computer-automated design) to plan out their robot and print custom parts. Once assembled, programmers used a complicated control system called a PID loop to create a self-correcting drive. Builders and programmers worked together to fabricate parts that could be automated with sensors. The team put in hundreds of hours to make this all possible.

Outside of building a robot, the Lakehill Bionicles put hundreds of hours into outreach this season. The team has: mentored the rookie robotics team (the award-winning Lakehill Mononicles), volunteered as helpers at the Lower School robotics clubs, connected with professional mentors in STEM fields (from a NASA intern to Texas Instruments engineers to former Bionicles alumni), connected with other teams, assembled over 150 STEM projects kits for Lakehill's Lower School, provided over 150 meals for Vogel Alcove, and more!

Although the FIRST Competition season may have ended, the team is far from being done! The Lakehill Bionicles is excited to continue working on robotics skills in the coming months as we scrimmage with other teams, prepare for the TAPPS competition, and continue our outreach projects.

“I am absolutely astounded with what this team was able to produce this year. They have accomplished several coding feats we barely imagined in the past. This was due to an extreme amount of time and effort put into all aspects of the design,” said Head Coach Mia Musselman.


Lakehill Bionicles (#14904) Robotics Roster 2022-23

Victoria Branch

Henry Fink

Matthew Hjertstedt

Anna Knickel

Drew Perry

Austin Rutherford

Ma'Ki Shaw

Connor Sullivan

Kishan Vallabh

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