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Gogebic Range Robotics team ineligible for Michigan grant funds


January 12, 2018


Hurley — Michigan leads the nation in FIRST Robotics teams, and $2.5 million in state grants will help even more students benefit from the experiences of working with professionals and being inspired by seeing real-world applications of technology subjects, said Roger Curtis, director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development.

Michigan has invested $12 million helping schools start and strengthen FIRST teams since 2014.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, was formed in 1989 to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills that inspire innovation, and foster well-rounded life capabilities, including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

Unfortunately the Gogebic Range Robotics team, headquartered in Hurley, does not qualify for the Michigan grant money because it’s in Wisconsin. The team draws three students from Wakefield-Marenisco, two from Bessemer, and two more from Ironwood, to join the 11 students from Hurley, according to William Van Hill, co-coach of the team.

One of the benefits of being headquartered in Hurley as opposed to Michigan is the GRR is not required to play in the Michigan district matches to qualify for regionals. The GRR goes straight to the regional tournament in Duluth, which is scheduled for March 7-10 this year.

“Michigan already has more than 500 FIRST high school teams. When you watch a competition and see the excitement and the partnerships with experts working in the fields, you know you are watching the next generations of our state’s engineers and leaders.

“FIRST Robotics provides a perfect partnership to bring industry and education together to help students understand and learn the skills needed to land one of the many 21st Century jobs here in Michigan,” State Superintendent Brian Whiston said. “Beyond that, FIRST exposes students to multiple career pathways, something critical to creating a Top 10 education system and helps build a robust talent pipeline for the thousands of jobs being created.”

Students participating in FIRST programs across the state are two times as likely to major in science or engineering in college, and more than 75 percent of FIRST alumni are currently in a STEM field as a student or professional.

The World Championships this year are scheduled for April 25 through 28 in Detroit. The tournament is expected to include nearly 60,000 students and 700 teams at Ford Field and Cobo Center with four levels of competition. Last year, two Michigan teams were part of the winning alliance at the World Championships in St. Louis.

Van Hill described this year’s game as much more strategy and developing a winning game plan than last year’s primarily physical requirements. This year the team’s robot joins forces with two other robots to match up against a competing three schools and their robots.

The two teams compete to place milk crates on a scale and the team with more crates on its side earns points and if a team can get three crates on the scale and push a button, iy earns a FIRST power-up for higher rewards and points, according to Van Hill.

The GRR team on Wednesday finished its basic idea for the robot ,according to Van Hill, now they have to complete fabrication of components in the Hurley shop room and write the code to make it all work. This year the team is using pneumatics, so they have to incorporate bottles for air and a compressor into the robot.

The team has five more weeks to complete their robot. The Duluth Regional Tournament is scheduled for March 7-10. Van Hill said they are trying to schedule some warm-up competition with other schools before the regional to prepare the team for tournament play. The team will learn Monday if it can also play in a second regional tournament in La Crosse, Wis.

In lieu of the Michigan grant, the GRR received $5,000 from the Hurley Education Foundation. Extreme Tool in Wakefield Township and the Stephens family have also contributed to the team and additional fund-raisers are being planned, according to Van Hill.


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