builders: Andrea Suarez, Mike Gellatly, Paul Grata, and
Jennifer Villa. They started off competing on opposing
teams, and eventually joined forces. They have become
great friends, and often travel together to fight robots. Due
to job opportunities, the team is now split between Florida,
North Carolina, and Texas. Collectively, they have over 45
years of tournament experience in combat robotics since
2001. They have competed mostly in the Middleweight
(120 lb) division, but in the last few years have been very
active in the Insect weight (150 g to 3 lbs) divisions.
Here’s what Andrea had to say about her team and
their amazing robots.
SERVO: What is your profession(s) and does it help you
when designing and building your robots?
Suarez: I am a research and development engineer at
Biomet Orthopedics, a medical device company. I work on
developing new implants to help patients that have
sustained a complex fracture as a result of a trauma. Both
my job and my hobby require building things that can't
break under the ultimate test.
SERVO: How did you get started in competitive
Suarez: I was first introduced to robotics at Carrollton
School of the Sacred Heart when I was 14 years old. The
team of girls had a BattleBots demonstration in the hallway
during the freshman open house, and it
was the coolest thing I had ever seen! I had
to get involved. Then, I joined Starbot
where I had the chance to work with
hundreds of kids that were all building
robots. I was hooked!
SERVO: How did you get selected to
be on BattleBots?
Suarez: We had to go through an
extended application process that included
CAD models, video interviews, and
many emails and phone calls. We
had been waiting on that final
decision for weeks. When I finally got
the call from Greg Munson, he briefly
congratulated us and then slipped
right into the legal information,
timing, stipends, and contracts. That
was our first glimpse into the
whirlwind we were about to enter.
SERVO: Tell me about your robot and its weapon.
Suarez: Our robot is a multi-bot called Witch Doctor
and Shaman. Witch Doctor is based loosely on our
middleweight by the same name. Its new vertical
asymmetric disk — shaped like a human skull — is capable of
spinning at over 4,000 RPM. Shaman weighs in at less than
40 lbs and has a flamethrower that rivals those on any of
the full-size bots.
SERVO: How did you pick your robot's name?
Suarez: Like I mentioned, we have a middleweight
named Witch Doctor that we've competed with for years.
We decided to keep the same name since this new robot is
loosely based on the original. Many of our Insect weight
robots — Ting Tang, Walla Walla, Voodoo Magic, DeJa
Voodoo — also follow this theme.
SERVO: How did you design and build it?
Suarez: During our very limited design period for this
build, we had planned a trip up to North Carolina to play in
the snow with our teammate, Paul who had recently moved
there. Late one night, the team took a dip in the hot tub of
the cabin we had rented and brainstormed all the different
concepts that we wanted to try over the next few hours.
We knew we had to keep the design fairly simple since we
only had a five week build period, but we also wanted it to
be effective and differentiated. Maybe it was the - 12°F
64 SERVO 09.2015
Witch Doctor and Shaman.
Team Busted Nuts Robotics in the
pits (L to R: Mike Gellatly, Paul
Shaman without the
Witch Doctor without the cover
plate and front wedge.