Michiana robotics team competing at national level

A local high school team is competing in nationals this week and the star player, isn't even human.

Meteorologist Frank Waugh takes us to Coloma, Michigan where they are gearing up for a trip to St. Louis.

For over 20 years, batteries and brains have battled in the U.S. First Robotics Competition and local team is making their first trip to the big dance of robots.

Michelle Lester is a high school freshman and member of the team.

“They said we were going to nationals and we all looked at each other and freaked out, it was so amazing to have that feeling,” she says.

Sophomore Michael Hazen says he is looking forward to the competition, “I am very excited we are going to nationals, the first year that we are going to nationals since the program has started and it's a big thing for everyone on the team.”

Team 2959, known as the Robotatarians, is comprised of six schools in northern Berrien County, including Waterveliet and Coloma. Over the past five years the team has grown from 9 to 51!

Dale Quattrin is the team mentor and coach and says he is excited about what the group is doing.

“The kids came together, and in the subsequent years with the other schools, they have come together as a fantastic team, they have created a cohesive unit that, has done just absolutely amazing things,” he says.

Amazing things like a robot that flings frisbees, speeds across the floor, and even climbs what resembles a robot jungle gym.

Michael: “During the competition, it is excitement, it is suspense, they wait to show us our scores until after the match so we are all getting ready... there are a lot of matches where some teams will lose by one point, three points, and that is one or two frisbees.”

And by the looks of the trophy case, this year’s bot has been right on target.

“This is beyond my dreams in terms of where this team would end up at the end of the year,” says team coach Dale. “I know that we have been doing better each year, but to be able to qualify for worlds it is a major leap forward.”

Michelle: Our drive team was really excited to get to go and drive the robot gain, we are excited to be able to go to St. Louis and show everyone who we are again, because we thought it would have been over if didn't get to nationals, now it is not over, we have another go at it, another go to get it right.”

Regardless if they add another trophy to the case or not, these students will be walking away winners in the long run.

“The fields of science and technology are screaming for these students,” describes Dale. “And future employees, and this is a perfect way of laying that foundation and giving these kids opportunities that they wouldn't have otherwise

Team 2959 is made up of six schools; Coloma, Watervliet, Lake Michigan Catholic, Grace Christian, Michigan Lutheran and Eau Claire.

Also representing Michiana in the national competition is team Excel from Niles and team 135 from Penn.

For those of you interested in the competition that gets underway Thursday, we have a link on The Big Red Bar.

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