J-L robotics team tunes up for regional competition
By Jil Schult, Staff Writer ~ Gaylord Herald Times
JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg-Lewiston (J-L) High School robotics team, as part of the U.S. First program, sent its robot in for inspection Tuesday. Under the supervision of Tony Fortin, J-L Computer Aided Drafting instructor, 14 students participated in the robotics challenge.
Of the 1,300 teams competing worldwide, the J-L team is one of the 25 teams in Michigan that received grant money to build the robot. The $6,000 grant covers the cost of the entry fee and parts. Fortin said he was notified of the grant in October. He held an exploratory meeting, put a team together, wrote and received the grant.
On Jan. 6 each team watched a worldwide simulcast on the NASA Channel before beginning the project. The J-L team attended the simulcast at Kettering University, Flint, before taking home their box of parts. “They all have different expertise,” Fortin said.
From engineering to manufacturing to laborious workers, the program involves students from grades 9-12. There are two full-time adult mentors, Craig Marsh, engineer and designer for H.B. Carbide, and Kathy Marsh, Kirtland Community College dean of instruction, and the team’s programming mentor. “The first couple weeks we did nothing but planning and strategizing,” said Fortin. The last four weeks were spent building the robot. “The robot was powered up on Tuesday (Feb. 13)” running down the hall,” Fortin said.
Jim Hilgendorf, J-L superintendent, watched with pride when the robot took a test run. “I think it’s pretty neat,” said Hilgendorf. “I thought it was great, a number of students were very interested in it.”
The team had to build a special crate to send the robot. All teams have to send the robot by midnight Tuesday. Federal Express donated the shipping.
There are several regional competitions all over the United States. The J-L team competes at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, March 29-31. The challenge this year, the 15th year of this competition, is for the robot to pick up inner tubes, turn them and put them on a rack at three different heights using a remote-control device. Following inspection, the team receives a list of any problems and a five-hour fix-it window before competition. A record 109 teams in Michigan built robots for competition this year.
Johannesburg-Lewiston High School has it’s first ever robotics team this year and all were on hand Thursday, December 14, 2006,
for a taste of what to expect in this years US FIRST robotic challenge.
Team “Firebot” from Ogemaw Heights and their 2006 robot, visited the J-L high school cafeteria, and gave “GEN I” members a
chance to drive it, after a thorough inspection. The demonstration is part of a mentoring arrangement for this year’s competition,
which “J-L GEN I” will be competing in on March 29-31, 2007.
The US FIRST robotics challenge is a worldwide competition, which in 2006 saw 1133 teams worldwide competing in picking up
Nerf balls and scoring them in various goals. The challenge changes each year, and the teams don’t know what the challenge is until the
worldwide kick-off on January 6, 2007. Once the event is kicked off, each team has 6 weeks to design and build their robot, then ship it off to
the competition site. GEN I will be competing at the Western Michigan Regional, which is at Grand Valley State University, near Grand Rapids.
The team currently has 12 team members and 2 adult mentors. Sponsors currently include The State of Michigan, Garland Resorts,
the Lewiston Lions, and the Lewiston Lioness clubs. If you are interested in becoming a team member, sponsor, or adult mentor,
see Mr. Fortin in room 313, or phone him at 989-731-4420, ext. 438.
For more information on the US FIRST robotics challenge, visit www.usfirst.org.