Written By: Jeff Hilaski
East Kentwood High School in Kentwood, MI is in its second year of building and running a robotics team. The team “Red Storm Robotics” meets one day a week after school and is preparing for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics build and competition season which begins in January of 2012 and runs through March.
The team is divided up into the following areas: programming and electronics, fabrication and build, CAD design, marketing and spirit, graphics, and web design. Randy Smith, a technology teacher at East Kentwood High School, and volunteers Dave Stutzman and his daughter Kalee all participate to make this team function. Dave specifically mentors the web team, and Kalee the programming crew. This year’s team is composed of approximately 25 students in grades 9 through 12. GE Aviations Systems is the primary sponsor of this team and donates both financial resources as well as mentoring by their engineers. The team also receives a large donation from JCPenny at the Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, MI.
In January, students across the nation are presented with a challenge that requires a moving robot that competes together with in a robotic arena. Teams participate in a series of matches and the top 24 teams are then placed into a tournament style bracket to determine the overall winner. Based upon success in the tournament, teams may qualify for both the state finals competition as well as the national competition.
Last year, the team finished as the “highest ranking rookie team”, at the Grand Valley Regional Competition. The team made it to the quarter finals of each of their tournaments last year and qualified for the state tournament as well.
The 2011-12 team recently participated in a mock pre-season tournament at Zeeland West High School. The team competed well and was selected by the tournament committee to receive the “Gracious Professionalism Award”. This is a high honor that was nominated by a competing team to recognize East Kentwood High School.