MentorBuilt News: Mentor absolutely convinced their Acrylic sheet is Polycarbonate for the 4th year in a row





Scranton, Ohio 

In the throes of build season, local mentor is unaware of the difference between acrylic and polycarbonate.

"We've used acrylic for years and still don't get how teams get theirs so flexible and durable. We've tried steaming it, bending it, but it shatters all the same," remarked Ned Lowe. Lowe heads up the local robotics team acting as a biology teacher by day, and head mentor by evening. The team is approaching the final stretch before their week 1 competition. "We like plastic because it's light-weight and easy to modify with drills, routers, and laser-cutters."

However, Lowe explains, this solution can get pricey. "I tell the kids to go easy," Lowe says, "but they get too dang excited with the hand drills and the whole thing shatters!" Lowe estimates they buy at least five times the amount of plastic they need on account of broken parts.

We asked the students their thoughts on the plastic conundrum. "We're sure they're using those NASA engineers to alter them chemically or something." said one student privately. "How is that fair? Like, doing science to make their robot parts better?"

Students on the team use concepts they learn in physics, chemistry, and math to help them build their machines. If they aren't careful about how much torque in their system, they can destroy motors and have a dead robot. Similarly, they can plan out ball trajectories or use mathematical filters to control their robot.

"I've heard people on Chief Delphi [an unofficial FRC forum] mention the difference between polycarb and acrylic but Mr. Lowe says we're definitely using polycarb so I'm not sure what's going on. Maybe we're just storing it in too cold a location," shrugs junior Samantha.

The team competes in early March.

-MB News

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