Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Robotics Club Makes Home 'Chaos Central'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Robotics Club Makes Home 'Chaos Central'

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton, Times-Union columnist

From the outside, it looks like a typical middle-class home, nestled along a suburban street near the San Jose Country Club.

But as Lisa Lovelace opens the front door, she greets you with the comment, "Welcome to chaos central."

It's an apt comment just about every day in January and February as well as on most weekends during the school year.

Todd Lovelace, whose vegetable oil-powered Mercedes I wrote about Friday, is an engineer with JEA. His friend Dave Vogel owns a company that installs automatic garage door openers. Together, they are in their seventh year as advisers to the Engineering and Robotics Club at Stanton College Preparatory School.

As a result, the Lovelace home is in its seventh year as the club's headquarters and manufacturing plant. To be specific, what used to be a two-car garage behind the Lovelace home has been gradually converted into what Todd Lovelace calls "a fabrication shop for robots."

But that activity typically spills out from the shop into the Lovelace backyard and from there into the house itself.

Each year, the robotics club builds a robot, designed to compete in the annual series of competitions sponsored by the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science & Technology. They start at the beginning of the school year, work most weekends through the holidays, then work almost daily for six weeks in January and February. The robots, which must be constructed out of materials provided in kits from FIRST and completed by a deadline in mid-February, compete in a series of games, the rules of which are changed each year. The best teams advance to the international competition, which begins Thursday in the parking lot at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center.

The Stanton team will be at Epcot this week with its robot, dubbed Ohmer. …

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