Kaneland trio help take ‘Pwnage’ to St. Louis

By on May 1, 2014

Photo: The trio of sophomore Charlie Faulkner (left to right), Alyssa Faulkner and sophomore Tristan Powell will compete in the first World Championships this week. Courtesy photo submitted to sfrazier@elburnherald.com

KANELAND—Three Kaneland students are members of robotic team Pwnage No. 2451, which recently earned the honor to compete in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition World Championship this week.

Pwnage No. 2451 will compete with around 400 other teams from around the world at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. The team’s KHS members are Aurora siblings Alyssa Faulkner, a senior, and Charlie Faulkner, a sophomore, and Elburn resident Triston Powell, also a sophomore.

All three KHS members are excited to be part of a championship opportunity.

“(It) feels great,” Charlie said.

“It’s really exciting,” Powell said. “And it’s gonna be really fun down in St. Louis. And we hope that we’re gonna win.”

The robotic team consists of 25 high school students. The KHS students worked with seven other high schools around the area, including Batavia, St. Charles North, St. Charles East, West Aurora, Metea Valley, Glenbard North and Burlington Central.

“At first it’s really weird to work with all of these people you don’t know,” Alyssa said. “We all learned to get along. And things just go well. And you work together and you learn about them—you learn about how the other schools function and you just have a great time.”

Pwnage No. 2451 accomplishments include reaching the quarterfinals at a FIRST Central Illinois Competition, ranking first in qualifying rounds and earning the title of FIRST Midwest Regional Champion.

Dan Kein, adult mentor representative and project manager of Pwnage No. 2451, pinpointed what made the robotic team a great one.

“It’s just the dedication of the kids … developing good design that ultimately has got us where we are right now,” Kein said.

The product of the team’s work is a 120-pound robot that was built in a machine shop, provided by Scott and Bonnie Hale, owners of Genesis Automation in St. Charles.

The couple provided the students with mentorship and a means to get hands-on experience to build the robot.

The robot does not have a name.

According to Powell, the robot is made of aluminum, plexiglass and rubber. The special feature that only the Pwnage team invented is a “swerve drive.”

“So, basically, the wheels can spin in infinite directions so that it can spin around and around and around without having to turn, really,” Powell said.

This move could come in handy while playing the competitive game “Aerial Assist” with other robots. The objective of this game is to score lots of balls in goals during a 2 minute, 30 second match. There are two “alliances” of three robots each that play on a 25-foot-by-54-foot field.

“So when we’re attacking, our robot can directly go right or left and then shoot instantly,” Powell said.

Powell explained what it’s like to have the robot compete in a game.

“It’s really exciting to make sure that the thing works and that it’s running well and it’s doing everything it’s supposed to,” Powell said.

Diane Spehar, parent of Triston and co-coordinator of Pwnage No. 2451, labels herself as a “very proud parent.”

“It’s extremely exciting,” Spehar said. “The kids are just so pumped.”