By Tia Lynn Lecorchick STAFF WRITER
Morgan County High School’s Robotics Team is in the middle of their annual six-week build session preparing for The Peachtree Regional Competition on March 27-29 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
With a pricey $13,000 budget, 23 MCHS students are devoting 20 hours per week during the build session to create a state-of-the-art robot that can successfully pick up and pass an exercise ball and shoot it into a goal that is about 10 feet off the ground.
The MCHS Robotics Team, which was established in 2010, will compete against 65 other teams from across the region. Each individual team will compete and form several alliances with two other teams at a time during the event.
Eventually, one alliance (of three teams) will be determined the winner and that alliance will progress on to the international championship held in St. Louis on April 23-26. As the MCHS team prepares for the event, they are divided into three separate groups, one in charge of the electrical and mechanical work, one in charge of software programming, and one in charge of the business work. which entails publicizing the team and organizing fundraisers.
Maryann Dartnell, Alec Johnson, Scott Wofford, MCHS teachers and coaches of the Robotics Team, and eight mentors from the community are working with the students to complete the project in time for March’s regional competition.
“Gracious professionalism, design and team spirit are the primary goals and scoring the most points is the secondary goal. The task this year is to cooperate with other team members as we all learn engineering practices at this time. Have added an extra week to practice and tweak things,” said Dartnell.
This year, the Robotics Team is adjusting to several changes.
“We lost half of the team last year because they were seniors and they graduated. We are a young and developing team this year. We have a very strong software team, but this period of time is really stressful,” explained Dartnell.
The MCHS Robotics Team student members include: Nick Baddour, Erik Cruz, Mauli Desai, Wylder Everett, Rebekah Everett, Sarah Gallagher, Everitt Gill, Morgan Godbey, Dorian Holloway, Bobby Jones, Bryce Keipper, David Key, Paul Kielman, Will Owen, Samuel Shan, Adam Smith, Colter Smith, Henry Smith, Hogan Tuell, Bradley Walker, Ashurst Walker, and Aaron White.
The MCHS Robotics Team is grateful for all the support and expertise coming from influential community members.
“The community involvement has been really great, we have had a lot of community members donate tools, workspace and their time. They are very supportive of us,” “Since our budget is about $13,000, this is no petty game that we are playing here. The team runs as a business. We have publicity, fundraising, and people who help get scholarships for the team members. The Robotics Team encompasses everything, all kinds of life-skills these students can use, in addition to the engineering components,” said Dartnell.
Sally Tuell, one of the mentors for the Robotics Team, believes the team provides a unique opportunity for MCHS students. “Since there are not other engineering programs at the school, the Robotics Team gives engineering opportunities for students who enjoy that,” said Tuell. Dartnell is in the planning stages of a cycling fundraiser that will take place throughout the county.
“We hope the community will get involved. We will invite cycling groups throughout Georgia. Morgan County is starting to become a destination for cycling because of our pretty terrain and topography. There is a lot of cycling in our area. This will hopefully become an annual fundraiser for the Robotics Teams,” said Dartnell.