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Iron Patriots Team Preps For The Future Of Science
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The three drive teams from the second place alliance at the Fresno competition shown here, Iron Patriots at left, Iron Panthers in the center, and Harker Robotics on the right. Photo Contributed
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Iron Patriot team members Ben Fichtenkort, Robert Smith, and Joe Leon are shown at a drive station setting up for a match. Photo Contributed
The robot is shown here climbing the second step at the competition in Fresno led by Coach Heidi Pagani and the Iron Patriots from Beyer High School, which includes some students who live in Riverbank. Photo Contributed

A small Robotics Team from Beyer High School led by Founder and Head Coach Heidi Pagani – and including some students who live in Riverbank – has made its presence known this season in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) in Fresno and Sacramento. The robotics team called the Iron Patriots consists of 45 students that competed against 49 teams in Fresno and 62 teams at U.C. Davis. The Iron Patriots received Second Place Alliance in Fresno and Seventh Place Alliance at the FIRST Sacramento Regional.

“I thought they did very well,” stated Pagani. “We are super proud of the Iron Patriots. Overall, it has been a wonderful season.”

They had six weeks to design, build, program, wire, fabricate parts and create pneumatics for the robotics competition. Twenty students from the team participated in the Fresno competition where they won a safety award and were finalists and the entire team competed at the Davis competition and were runners up for the safety award. There are teams from places like China, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, and Arizona that competed.

The competitions are usually three days long from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. with a new and different alliance in each round.

“You are randomly scheduled with two other teams and play three against three,” explained Pagani. “This year’s theme was deep space. Objects looking like rockets and shuttles were in the field. Discs were needed to be placed on the holes of the rockets and shuttles and then balls were to be placed inside.”

She added that there are 89 qualifying rounds between two days and then playoffs take place between the top eight alliances leading to quarterfinals, semifinals, and then finals. At the end of the competition is an awards ceremony.

The team takes the robot, tools, a pit area, costumes, and enthusiasm to each competition, she said.

The robot the Iron Patriots built could get discs and put them onto holes that had Velcro around the edges and played defense against other teams as well as climb. The team worked with two other teams to cover the holes and fill the towers with balls and then had to climb up onto the steps.

The Riverbank Federated Women’s Club has supported the Beyer Robotics Team for several years including monetary donations to continue providing high school students the opportunity to explore the engineering and computer science fields.

The First Robotics Challenge (FRC) and the First Technical Challenge (FTC) teams, which are very costly, depend on donations to continue running.

Some of the students expressed that the competition was fun, exciting, challenging, long days, lots of hours, hard work, and that they met new and interesting people.

Pagani added that one of the students said that it was the hardest fun you will ever have.

The team will have some upcoming presentations, an end of year wrap, and a discussion on how to improve for next year.