Mike Austin

Manchester’s Digital Dislocators Advance to Finals in FIRST Robotics Competition

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12832355_10102767606900684_8250706742068027503_nLast weekend Manchester High Schools rookie FIRST Robotics team (6081) the “Digital Dislocators” competed in their first “FIRST Robotics Competition” at Kettering University in Flint. The rookie team did exceptionally well, ranking 21 out of 40 teams and advanced all the way to the final round before being defeated. In addition, they were in the top 15 in Offensive Power Ranking and won the Rookie All Star award.

The Digital Dislocators is made up of nine students, Nathan Hicken, Thomas Keast, Nicholas Kurgin, Garrett Mayes, Audrey Pierce, Claudia Pierce, Jakob Rosskopf, Jake Vershum, and Gi West, who each took on different responsibilities including being part of the drive team, mechanical team, electrical team, programming team, as well as public relations and marketing team. Teacher Matt Hall said the students learned that being on the team was “not just about building a robot, but learning real world problem-solving skills and communication.” Team mentors, teachers and professional engineers made the FIRST Robotics Program possible. In addition to Hall, mentors this year include  Ed Kurgin, Christopher Fillyaw, Karl Racenis, Mark West, and Cheryl Call. This mentorship gives students who are a part of the team an insider’s view into a career in science, engineering, and technology not possible in a normal classroom setting.

Another integral part of the team is team sponsorship. Some of the teams the Digital Dislocators were competing against have an annual budget of over $30,000. Through the very generous support of Manchester Community Schools Foundation, Worth Repeating, LaRock Dental, Wolverine Sports, and the Michigan Department of Education, Manchester’s team has a budget this year of $12,000. If anyone is interested in sponsoring the team as an individual, organization, or business they can contact Hall at mhall@mcs.k12.mi.us

A FIRST Robotics Competition is a two-day event that puts individual team robots into three robot “alliances” for qualifying matches.  Points are scored by defeating the other team’s defenses (obstacles). Manchester had 12 qualifying matches and ranked 21 out of 40 teams. The top 24 teams advance to the quarter finals where alliances are picked by the top 8 qualifying teams. These hand-picked alliances remain the same throughout the playoffs. Manchester’s alliance made it all the way to the finals before being eliminated.

FIRST Robotic Competitions are open to the public and the team would love to have you come cheer them on. The next competition in which Manchester will be competing is March 31– April 2 at Parker Middle School in Howell.


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