Students prepare for robot contest

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Students at Lawton Academy of Arts and Sciences took a robot they built to Lawton Fire Station One to show the firefighters what they've been working on.

The students are preparing for the Heartland BEST Robotics competition. This year's theme is Fire Fighting with Rescue Robots.

The CEO of the project and third-year veteran CJ Marr said he and his fellow students were tasked with building a robot that could withstand an industrial fire simulator.

"We have built this crossbow system right here and mounted a hopper on top," Marr said. "It's self-loading so every time a shot is fired it will push it out and a new water ball will drop in. And then we just threw on a little hook to grab the mannequin because all he is PVC and you hook him on and drag him back."

The eight students who worked on the robot had just six weeks to build it from scratch.

"Patience...patience is key," Marr said.

The high school and middle school students spent hours getting the robot ready.

They were given set supplies to build the bot but had to come up with their own design that would also meet the qualifications.

"It helps to be more creative and think outside the box and if you had stronger materials, if you had more materials you could do a lot more so since you are restrained by the materials it really makes you get creative," he said.

Lawton Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike McDaniel said the community could see more robots in the years to come.

"The kids today are the future so they're the ones that will kinda decide what direction firefighting goes," McDaniel said. "They'll invent the new equipment that we'll use."

Marr said going to the fire station and showing the bot was nerve-wracking but he's glad they went.

"You want it to work for people but at the same time we got a lot of great ideas," Marr said. "We learned a lot, a lot that we can bring to the table next year as well."

The students experienced a couple hiccups that they'll work on before they leave for the competition.

On Saturday they'll give a presentation and compete against 20 other groups that built robots to see how their robot fairs. The top four will move on to a regional contest.

The students also dropped off 20 smoke detectors while they were there.

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