MARS WARS—a student robotics team based in Metamora, Illinois, just can’t contain its excitement. The team’s been invited to participate in the FIRST Robotics championships in St. Louis in just a few weeks time.
Metamora teachers and students decided they wanted to start a robotics team after attending last year’s FIRST regional playoffs. And with a lot of hard work and fundraising the rookie team is up and running for the 2012 competitions.
“Our students, with one exception, have never been involved with FIRST or robotics before, and likewise, our mentors are all rookies except for one who has worked with another area team before,” says team mentor Keith Gargiulo. “The students have been highly dedicated during build season as well as afterwards preparing for regionals.”
MARS WARS’ robot is extra special. The team has designed it to be able to use its bridge manipulator arm to sweep balls out from under the bridges. And what’s been the most fun part of the project? Using professional-grade CAD tools “just like engineers at NASA,” say the kids.
The team members have learned a lot from building their robot, and it’s not all technical knowledge. Working with other people was challenging at times, when trying to communicate ideas, especially for six weeks straight, the kids say.
And the team members are confident the skills they’re picking up will help them gain the competitive edge in college.
“I’ve applied and been accepted to Missouri University of Science and Technology,” says one team member. “Having FIRST Robotics definitely helped my application stand out. I also will have experience now when I start taking CAD classes in college and it will enable me to perform better in those classes.”
Look out for MARS WARS and the St. Louis finals!