Carmel High School robotics team has high hopes for season


Carmel High School junior David Racovan isn’t holding back on his goal for TechHOUNDS.

“We’re going for winning worlds this year, so we’re really trying,” said Racovan, whose robotics team lost in the state playoffs last year.

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The state winner advances to the FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, Championship, which is referred to as worlds.

Racovan, in his third year with the team, serves as the programming/electrical lead.

“I lead our division in doing all the tasks that are assigned, like programming the robot, programming the vision system and wiring the robot and building our scouting system for competitions,” Racovan said.

The TechHOUNDS team is divided into robot ops, or operations, construction, public relations and programming/electrical.

“The construction division’s main goal is to build the game pieces to compete with,” TechHOUNDS coach Larry Griggs said. “The robot ops are responsible for designing and building it. Programming and electrical put all the smarts behind it. This is my third year at Carmel, but I’ve been around robotics for a long time. These kids have a work ethic like I’ve never seen. They are the smartest kids I’ve ever been around. So, hopefully, they put together a good robot this year and we’re successful with it.”

The competition theme is “Charged Up,” where the robot collects game pieces, cones and cubes around the field and puts them on a grid to score.

“We have to build a mechanism to pick both of those pieces up and place them in certain areas,” Racovan said.

The season’s first event will be March 3-5 at Penn High School in Mishawaka, followed by a competition March 10-12 at Princeton Community High School. The state competition is set for April 6-8 at Anderson University.

From the state meet, the team hopes to advance to the FIRST Championship April 19-22 in Houston. The TechHOUNDS won the state competition in 2018 and 2019.

Senior Ayden Hornsby, the robot ops lead, said the team is eager to compete after the 2020 and 2021 competitions were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The seniors are the ones who were freshmen when it all got shut down (for the pandemic), so everyone here has been here through the thick and the thin,” said Hornsby, who will major in engineering at Purdue. “I love that we get to come in here and work with all this machinery. You can come in knowing nothing and come out knowing everything. You get what you put in, and I love working in the shop.”

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