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Robotics Team Heading to State Competition.

THRUST 1501 heads to Kokomo looking to capture State Crown and more.

April 12, 2019

Huntington Indiana

By The Den's Mike Rice

When I say the word “robotics”, what’s the first thing that pops into your head?

Did you think of R2D2 and C3PO from the Star Wars franchise?

Perhaps, you relived memories of playing Rock’em, Sock’em robots from when you were a kid.

Todd Gilpin thinks of a vehicle to help achieve a greater objective.

Gilpin is a mentor for the Huntington County 4-H Robotic Team THRUST 1501 and says a lot of people he meets have pre-conceived notions that robotics is all about “build a robot and you’re done”.

Those people often over look the life skills that are taught along the way.

At the start of each competition season, robotics teams across the world, yes, I said world, are sent a list of rules and regulations that will govern that season’s contests.

After obtaining their set of rules, Team THRUST, comprised of 45 to 50 students from Huntington and many neighboring counties, meets to determine a plan of attack.

They discuss the what, how and when of the build, then they break into the “who” part of the process, dividing into smaller groups, each group tackling a specific task.

Prototypes are built and tested, redesigned and tested again, if necessary, until each step is complete.

Along the way, Team Thrust members, rely upon their ability to plan, schedule, improvise, work together and adapt to unforeseen problems, to successfully build their robot.

Mentors aren’t immune from picking up a new trick or two, either.

Gilpin described how, with students sometimes seeing things “in a different way”, the build process is often a meeting of new and old ideas, allowing the mentors to learn new things.

All of this comes together in 6 weeks or less.

When those 42 days have come and gone, Team Thrust is off to compete.

Robotics competitions match teams against each other to see which can get their robot to perform specific tasks better than the other.

Those tasks, which change from year to year, include activities like climbing stairs and picking up cargo, then delivering it to another area of the course.

Robotics matches can be intense. Sometimes, parts fail, or robots break and have to be repaired, on site, between matches.

Much like at NASCAR or Formula 1 auto races, repairs take place in the pits.

It’s in those pits, that Gilpin describes as being much like a small “garage”, where things can take an interesting turn.

At times, a team may not have everything needed to make a repair. Rather than see an opponent knocked out via circumstances beyond their control, many teams are more than willing to lend their surplus parts to aid in repairs.

That sense of fair play builds a level of comradery that goes on full display at the end of each competition season.

Every robotics year culminates in a true world championship.

This year’s final battle will take place in Detroit, Michigan on April 27th.

So far, 142 teams have qualified for the trip to Detroit. Team THRUST 1501 is one of those teams, having punched their ticket on March 10th, via a victory in the St. Louis Regional.

Team THRUST 1501 joins a field that includes teams from across the United States, as well as Canada, China, Taiwan, Israel, Netherlands and Singapore.

If you’d like to stay updated on Team THRUST 1501 and their quest for a world title, check back with us for updates.

For general information regarding robotics and robotics competitions, visit and

For a video description and explanation of the competition, you can visit

For info, pictures, videos and a partial list of previous awards of Team THRUST 1501 in action, please go to and

Videos of the team’s regional win in St. Louis can be found at and

You can find Team THRUST 1501 on Facebook, as well, at

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