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Frisbee-flinging challenge good test for Bad Robots

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The first competition of the season for Bad Robots pitted the Dublin high school team against Ohio State University's women's ultimate Frisbee team.

The friendly competition between man and machine let the FIRST Robotics Competition team that includes students from Dublin's three high schools do a few adjustments to their robot before the first regional contest.

This year's challenge has the robot throwing Frisbees at targets and climbing pyramids.

Cait Harley, an OSU junior and captain of the Fever ultimate Frisbee team, said she was contacted by the Dublin Robotics Boosters for the contest.

"She mentioned their growth in women on the team and I thought it would be meaningful (to do the contest)," Harley said.

Coach Troy Dramble said the number of girls on the Bad Robots team is increasing.

When signups began for the 90-member team, 28 girls signed up, only slightly behind the 38 boys initially signed up.

"That percentage is insane," he said. "There's been a huge influx of girls."

The large amount of girls on the team has led to the creation of the Women in Engineering Club, founded by two Bad Robot members, Kelly Helmreich and Nicole Brown.

"We both enjoy engineering," Brown said of the origin of the club.

The first meeting for the club was held last week.

"We're encouraging other girls to get into engineering," Brown said.

"It's a support system for girls at Coffman," Helmreich said.

"We'll bond and enjoy engineering."

The new club will meet monthly, but the founders don't expect it to take away from their time with the robotics club.

Last week's competition against the Fever was one of many demonstrations the team does annually. A large part of the robotics club is outreach, Dramble said.

"We are a very successful team in outreach aspects," he said. "Some kids went to Bailey (Elementary School) yesterday."

Helmreich said the team has also done demonstrations at the Dublin Community Recreation Center and took last year's robot that shoots basketballs to a recent game.

"We've been at grocery stores as well," she said.

Emily Sharick, a 2012 Coffman graduate and OSU freshman, returned to the school last week for the competition. As a member of the Fever and a former Bad Robots member, she wasn't going to miss it.

"I'm really excited because I was on the robotics team last year," she said. "When I found out the challenge was Frisbee I was excited because I love Frisbee."

With time spent on both teams, Sharick successfully predicted a victory for the Fever.

"We're really good," she said.

"The last couple seasons have been really successful," Harley said. "In 2011 we won regionals for the first time."

Despite the loss to the Fever, the contest gave the Bad Robots a chance to plan fixes. The team built two robots in six weeks and shipped one to competition already. The robot used last week is used for testing and figuring out what needs to be changed on the contest robot.

"This helps us work out mechanical kinks," Brown said.

"Every time we do this it helps," Helmreich said.

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