"We’re hoping to bring home a regional trophy," said Comenduley, a PMSA senior and the captain of the team.
Comenduley is the fourth captain in the seven-year history of the Monty Pythons, which has built a robot to perform various tasks at regional contests, including this year’s contest at the UIC Pavilion on April 4 to 6. Partnering with Triton College, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
(ASME), and Dynomax, Inc., and working at nearby Triton College, the team is tasked with building a robot that can maneuver through an obstacle course, shoot a Frisbee into a target, and climb a pyramid. The robot’s performance is then paired with a presentation from the team about what it has learned from the construction of the robot. The robot construction ran from early January until the final eligible day on February 19.
"It’s supposed to move using a remote control, and it’s supposed to be able to climb," said Mr. John Wardisiani, the math and science department chair at PMSA. "A lot of brain power has gone into it."
To build the robot, the students divided themselves into departments focusing on programming, design and construction. Using math, engineering and design skills, the students work together to build a machine that will perform a pre-assigned series of tasks. These tasks include building on what previous years’ teams have done.
Comenduley said that the team has used items as familiar as video games controls for use in driving the robot and newer technology such as 3-D imaging software and 3-D printers to create individual components. This is all used in pursuit of furthering their education while pursuing a regional title and moving on to the national contest.
"It’s a friendly environment," Comenduley said. "It’s competitive, but it’s fun. People have said it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do."
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that the team is a good example of students stretching themselves in their education.
"Skills in math and science are needed now more than ever," she said. "Extending themselves in this way helps them develop those skills in a constructive manner and makes it relevant in a real world application."