Negaunee’s FIRST Robotics Team ready to compete in Escanaba

For the first time, Escanaba High School will host a FIRST Robotics Team competition.

Thirty-seven high school robotics teams, including more than a dozen from the U.P., are set to compete in Escanaba starting Friday.

FIRST Robotics stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

Negaunee FIRST Robotics mentor Scott Washburn calls it a sport for the mind.

“It’s problem solving for them (the students), and it’s a lot of fun,” he said.  “So we’re (the mentors) here as support to make sure everyone’s safe, and to answer any questions and help them grow in this experience.”

For the competition, each team is given six weeks to build a robot with certain rules and constraints.

“There’s actually quite a few rules,” Negaunee High School sophomore Devin Salbert said.  “You have to have different weights and different dimensions.  The dimensions can change a little bit after you start, so ours has an arm that has to go up for when you first put it out there, and then you lower it once we start the actual competition.”

This year’s project is to built a robot that will put an inflatable ball in a hoop, similar to basketball.

“It (the robot) has a drive system so it can go in any direction forward and backward pretty quick.  It’s a little bit touchy on the controls,” Salbert said.  “It has an arm that can be raised and lowered with a motor, and then it has a shooting system where it can suck in a ball if it’s touching it at the point where the wheel is on the arm, and then it can shoot it out into another robot or into a goal.”

“(At the competition you’re) Making the robots with each other passing the ball to each other and then making a goal, there’s a lower goal and a higher goal,” Washburn said.  “Depending on which (goal) you get it in is more points and the more assists that you do–which is what the main goal of this is, working with the other teams–working together and catching the ball.”

The team gets ideas from other FIRST Robotics teams to try and built the best structure as possible.

“The big thing about this competition is all teams help each other out,” Washburn said.  “They’ll post their notes and you can go on the Internet and look them up and see what other teams are doing, get ideas, then take them for your own and put your own spin on it.”

The FIRST Robotics team doesn’t see the event in Escanaba as competition, but more as a fun, and friendly sport.

“(It’s) mainly having fun,” Washburn said.  “It’s so hard to know what’s going to happen. We could get out there and we could have something major break, but you just go out and you have fun and we do what we can.”