LAINGBURG’S RED THUNDER ROBOTICS team showed off its 2019 robot, “Opportunity,” to the community in March. Through donations and financial support, the students are working with a budget of about $15,000 to be part of the international FIRST Robotics Competitions. “Opportunity” features an elevator that allows it to better perform the tasks required of all robots.
by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit is based in Manchester, NH and was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, according to the FIRST website. Today, four FIRST programs — FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST LEGO League Jr. — reach over 400,000 young people from around the world annually.
Area high schools joined the FRC party in 2014, with teams forming in Corunna, Ovid-Elsie, Chesaning, Owosso and Durand. Since then, teams have formed at Byron High School, in 2015; at Perry High School, in 2017; and at Laingsburg High School and Morrice High School, in 2018.
The 2019 FRC season began in January, and area teams began the competitive season in early March, at the FIRST In Michigan (FIM) District Kettering University Event. The FIM competitive season, which includes more than 500 teams, wraps up with the Michigan State Championship in University Center, MI, from Wednesday, April 10 through Saturday, April 13.
The highest ranked area team, as of Thursday, March 28, are the Perry RAMBOTS, from Perry High School. The RAMBOTS are ranked 68th after two competitions. The team competed at Kettering University on Friday, March 1, finishing 14th overall and as a District Event Finalist. The RAMBOTS then finished as the 21st-placed team at the FIM District West Michigan Event on Saturday, March 23. The team is also scheduled to compete in Shepherd on Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30.
The next highest-ranked area team is the Owosso Operating System, from Owosso High School, at 153rd after two competitions. The Owosso team placed 21st at the FIM District Kettering University Event on Saturday, March 2, and 35th at the Alpena competition on Saturday, March 23. To learn more about the Owosso Operating System team, visit www.firstinspires.org.
Team FridgeBot, from Corunna High School, is ranked 166th after only one competition. The Corunna team began its season by finishing 13th and earning the Judge’s Award at the Kettering University contest on Saturday, March 2. Team FridgeBot also competed in the FIM District Shepherd Event that concluded on Saturday, March 30. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.fridgebotfoundation.org.
Next up are the Railroaders from Durand High School, which is ranked 189th after one competition. The Durand team finished 30th and as a District Event Finalist at the FIM District Kettering University Event on Saturday, March 9, and the team also earned the contest’s Judge’s Award. The Railroaders team is scheduled to compete in the FIM District Lake Superior State University Event, which concludes on Saturday, April 6. For more about the Durand team, visit http://team5282.org.
Byron Robotics, from Byron High School, has competed once so far this season and is ranked 227th, the result of a 3rd-place finish at the Kettering University competition that ended on Saturday, March 9. The Byron team is also scheduled to compete at the Livonia contest on Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6. More information about Byron Robotics can be found at http://team5641.com.
The MaraunderBots, from Ovid-Elsie High School, is ranked 271st after one competition, a 26th-place finish in the Kettering University competition on Saturday, March 2. The MarauderBots are scheduled to compete in the Lake Superior State University contest on Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6. For more about the MarauderBots, visit www.marauderbots.com.
Gears of Fortune, from Chesaning High School, is ranked 275th after two competitions in 2019. The Chesaning team finished 27th at the Kettering University contest that ended on Saturday, March 9, and they finished 22nd at the FIM District Midland Event on Saturday, March 23. More information about the Gears of Fortune can be found online, at http://team5235.com.
Neither the Red Thunder Robotics, from Laingsburg High School, and the Cyber Orioles, from Morrice High School, had competed, as of Thursday, March 28. Both team were scheduled to compete on Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30, with the Laingsburg team competing in the FIM District Marysville Event and the Morrice team competing in the Shepherd contest. Red Thunder Robotics will also compete in the FIM District Forest Hills Event on Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6. The Cyber Orioles will wrap up their regular season at the FIM District Lansing Event on April 6.