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Niles High robotics gearing up for season

Published 7:56am Friday, October 25, 2013

It’s preseason time for robotics teams across the state, but that doesn’t mean team members are taking it easy.

Right now is one of the busiest and most important times of the year as team members are in the process of securing sponsors and donations for the upcoming FIRST Robotics build season.

During build season, team members have six weeks to build a robot capable of completing a specific challenge that will be revealed by FIRST Robotics in January.

Teams will need $5,000 just to enter into FIRST Robotics. More money is needed if a team wants to enter multiple competitions and advance to the state and national level.

“It takes a lot of fundraising just to get the entry fee,” said Joseph Franc, a Niles High School senior and member of the robotics team’s finance department.

Franc said they’ve already sent out emails soliciting donations from prospective clients.

“Most of the time we end up going to a company and doing a PowerPoint presentation about our team, how they can help us and why they should help us,” said Franc.

“It’s a really good learning experience. I’ve learned how to be a leader, how the business world operates and how to be a better speaker.”

If the team secures a sponsor, the sponsor’s logo will be placed on team T-shirts, the robot and on team banners, depending on the amount of sponsorship.

People and businesses can also donate parts, time or food to the team.

Franc said Pizza Transit in Niles provided free pizzas last year for team meetings.

“A lot of companies contribute in different ways,” Franc said.

Keith Messenger, Niles robotics coach, said students who participate in robotics learn skills that help prepare them for college and career pathways in business, design, marketing, engineering and software programming.

Jerrid Burdue, a member of last year’s team, used his experience to help land an internship at the Michigan Department of Transportation. Messenger said Burdue is now pursuing a degree in civil engineering.

“These kids are our future leaders and this is only going to help them,” he said.

Anyone interested in learning more about the team can visit the team website www.nilesroboticsteam.com.

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