THE PERRY HIGH SCHOOL RAMBOTS can be seen during the Michigan State Championship at Saginaw Valley University. The team finished competition on Saturday, April 14 in 13th place, which was good enough to qualify for the FIRST (global) Championship in Detroit.

  Shown in front of the FIRST banner in Saginaw is (back row, from left) Logan Braun, Joshua Glumm, Jack Zheng, Ethan Smith, Carson Lowrey and Jeff Cole. In the middle row (from left) is Dave Luft (seated) coach Jan Luft and Matthew Menig. In the front row (from left) is Emerald Foley, Aryanna Owens, Caitlin Braun and John Decker.

(Courtesy Photo)


by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor

Three Shiawassee County robotics teams earned the right to compete in the FIRST Michigan State Championship this year, with the teams from Corunna, Ovid-Elsie and Perry high schools competing at Saginaw Valley State University from Thursday, April 12 through Saturday, April 14.

Despite having one of the most capable robots in the state, Team FridgeBot from Corunna finished 39th at the state event and missed the cut to advance to the FIRST Championship in Detroit on Wednesday, April 25. Luckily, the Perry High School RAMBOTS finished 13th, and the MarauderBots from Ovid-Elsie High School took 21st, with both advancing to the global contest where they will compete against and alongside teams from all over the world.

The MarauderBots, led by coach Brian Topping, began competing in FIRST Michigan Robotics in 2014, and this is the team’s first time qualifying for the state and global events. They finished in 4th place at the Kettering University District on March 3, and they also captured the Excellence in Engineering Award. And then at the Gaylord District on March 17, the team took 1st place and earned the Innovation in Control Award.

For the Perry High School RAMBOTS, who began competing in 2017 under the direction of coach Jan Luft, 2018 marks the second consecutive year the team has earned a trip to the global event. The RAMBOTS took 7th place at the Kettering University District on March 10, and the team finished 22nd and qualified as an event finalist at the West Michigan District in Allendale on March 24.

Team FridgeBot is coached by Scott Stap and began competing in 2014. The team’s successful 2018 season included a 6th place finish at the Kettering University District on March 3, and the team won the Lake Superior State University District in Sault Ste. Marie on April 7, finishing in 2nd place behind the WOBOT team from Holland, MI.

The cost to enter the FIRST Championship is $5,000 per team, on top of travel and lodging expenses, so the Perry and Ovid-Elsie teams are currently raising money. As Jan Luft pointed out, it costs a team approximately $20,000 to build a robot and compete in two FIRST district events, the state event and the global event, so no team would be able to take advantage of this experience without the help of the community.

To make a donation to the Perry High School RAMBOTS, checks can be made out to “Perry High School Robotics” and dropped off at Perry High School. Checks can also be mailed to the high school, which is located at 2555 Britton Rd., Perry, 48872, attn: Jan Luft.

To contribute to the MarauderBots, persons can visit the team’s website,, where a link to the team’s GoFundMe page can be found.

Robotics Put Shiawassee County on the Map was last modified: April 23rd, 2018 by Karen Elford