FIRST Robotics competition underway

Haley Gustafson | Daily Press Members of the robotics team The Deceivers out of Brimely competes in the FIRST Robotics District Competition Friday afternoon at the Escanaba High School. The competition, which features teams from around the Upper and Lower Peninsula, will continue today until 6:30 p.m. at the high school.

ESCANABA –The FIRST Robotics District competition began Friday with over 30 teams from around the Upper Peninsula and nine from the Lower Peninsula coming to Escanaba High School with their robots — ready to compete. Competition will continue throughout the day today.

During Friday’s event, opening ceremonies began the day with the introduction of the judges, a welcome speech from Escanaba High School Principal Darci Griebel, and the singing of the National Anthem. Qualifying matches began shortly after. The district competition is the step before teams could potentially travel downstate for state competition.

New to the robotics scene is Carney-Nadeau Wolf Robotics, and according to Head Coach Eric Janofski, he and his squad are ready and excited to compete.

“It feels exciting. We worked really hard for this,” said Janofski. “We didn’t want moving furniture, we wanted something that was ready to compete.”

Janofski explained Carney-Nadeau schools decided to start up a robotics team to offer more variety to extra curricular activities, adding robotics is meant for those who want a “sport for their mind.” After their first round of competing, Janofski said they’re taking all of the experiences in so they are even more prepared for next year.

“We learned a lot. It feels exhilarating,” said Janofski.

Cole Tebow, team captain for Wolf Robotics, said he is looking forward to competing ­throughout the weekend.

“We’re very happy to be here,” said Tebow. “I’m excited to get a rookie team as far as we can.”

This year, the FIRST competition featured a “steampunk” theme, and the main game was “FIRST STEAMWORKS,” where the robots were assigned various tasks including operating on its own for 15 seconds, moving and picking up rotors, and “taking flight.” Each team in attendance competed in two-minute rounds, vying for their spot in the state competition later this year. In addition to overall winners, other awards will be given out such as the Team Spirit award, Gracious Professionalism award, and Rookie All-Star award.

For the Gladstone’s BraveBots, team member and senior David Soderman said although this may be his last year competing in robotics, he is happy to been a part of the team, adding the BraveBots are more than ready to battle.

“It’s really exciting and I think we’re going to do well,” said Soderman.

Soderman explained the creation of a robot takes six weeks and some team members have over 150 hours of work put into constructing the robot.

Some teams had long trips to attend the tournament. Coming from Traverse City, TITAN Robotics members Jared Kraft and Atlas Rosenburg said even though they had a five hour trip to make it here, they’re happy to be in the U.P.

“We competed here last year and it feels good to back,” said Kraft. Kraft and Rosenburg have been competing with robots for about three years.

Rosenburg said his favorite part of robotics is coming up with problem solving strategies to get whatever task that needs to be completed, done.

“I like coming up with new ways to look at problems, and having to find new solutions,” said Rosenburg. Kraft noted that while the building of the robot and solving issues is fun, he prefers the technical aspect of competition such as marketing and making the team’s banner.

Escanaba Robomos member, Shelbie Lehto, said hosting the event in Escanaba pushes them to do their best.

“It’s exciting and I think it pushes us a little to do better for our hometown community,” said Lehto, adding she is grateful that Escanaba has a school big enough to host large events like the FIRST Robotics competition.

The tournament will end today with an awards ceremony at 5 p.m. and events will officially conclude at 6:30 p.m.