FLINT — In the midst of his second robotics competition, it is not hard to see the enthusiasm beaming from the face of Sen. Dave Robertson. He compared it to a pep rally, which it very much is between matches, when dance music gets audience members and competitors on their feet and shaking it to the beats of popular tunes.
The Grand Blanc EngiNERD’s came home as district champs, making Robertson’s comments true. Although a robotics match seems like organized chaos, it is not only fun, but as Robertson puts it, “an exceptional activity.”
“I’m consistently impressed with what these kids are doing,” Robertson said. “The youthful energy and powerful intellect and mental energy manifested in teamwork is heartening,” he added.
A lot of the hard work is completed before competition even begins — when the FIRST Robotics group announces the game of the year. It usually involves creating a robot which can manipulate an object through a series of defined goals.
Last year, it was all about the Frisbees, and this year, with brand new robot designs, the teams are handling large 24-inch exercise balls, about 7-8 pounds, according to Grand Blanc EngiNERD’s Team Mentor Brandi Bolinger.
The team had a consistent winning strategy that kept them on top throughout the fierce competition this weekend at Kettering University, as can be seen on their Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/ Team2337.
They, as well as the Goodrich Martians Team 70 and other area high schools met in teams of three against three, aiming to move the ball through a low 6-inch goal or a high goal. Although they were eliminated in the semi-final matches, Goodrich won the Excellence in Engineering award and they are online at www.70moremartians.com/ or www.facebook.com/pages/FRC-Teams-70- and-494/117585134964796.
Robertson was also impressed at the implied future of the students who compete in robotics. With big name sponsors like General Motors, Chrysler, Premier Tooling Systems, Midstates Bolt & Screw and many others, students have a higher chance at scholarships and employment in a very lucrative career field.
“I wish everybody had an opportunity (to attend this event),” Robertson stated. “The enthusiasm is extraordinary!” He also said he learned that robotics is bringing young people together all across the world and he is very proud of the local Michigan students.
“Cal Tech and MIT have nothing on our kids,” he bragged. He added that another great thing about robotics is that unlike traditional athletic activities, everyone has a chance to ‘go pro,’ or make a career out of what they are doing now.
Kettering hosted 40 high school FIRST Robotics teams from across the state over the weekend. This year’s game is called “Aerial Assault” where each team’s uniquely styled robots find out if their student engineers and drivers have what it takes to score the big win.
Genesee County high school teams competing include teams from Davison, Fenton, Flint, Goodrich, Grand Blanc, Linden and Swartz Creek. A complete list of teams is available at: www.usfirst.org/ roboticsprograms/frc/regional-events
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