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SnowBots storm the Yeti Cup

(Provided photo) (Front row, from left) Yamato Tajiri, Tyler Gregersen, Maddie Minerick, Peter Rudnicki, Mason Heldt, Daniel Xie. (Back row from left) Rachel Bergstrom, Elizabeth Bergstrom, Kayleigh Matson, Ben Manchester, Nathanael Strome, Nelson Monte, Joel Brubaker, Kyle Hubert (SnowBot), Evan Massaway. Not in photo: Collin Damsteegt, Evan Hill, Edward Liu, Colton Sam, Anna Wu, Zhi Tao Yap, Joshua You.

The SnowBots Middle School Robotics teams competed in Kingsford last weekend for the Yeti Cup U.P. FIRST Tech Challenge robotic qualifier competition. All three teams were in the finals and brought home awards from the competition. SnowBots teams are open to area sixth-eighth grade students, and meet at Houghton Middle School. SnowBots teams go by color: Blue, Silver, and Red, and are lead by administrative coach Melody Doig and technical coach Chris Doig and mentored by the Houghton High School FIRST Robotics Competition team (Superior Roboworks).

First Tech Challenge (FTC) teams build robots around the size of a microwave oven (maximum 18-inch cube) that typically need to drive and perform operations to earn points in a cooperative-competitive challenge with a partner team and two opponent teams. Points are earned for autonomous and driver-controlled actions. 

FTC is more than just the robotic machinery. Teams document their design process in an engineering notebook, formally present to a panel of judges, answer impromptu interview questions, participate in outreach events (i.e. Robots at the Library and MTU Science Fair), and help other teams by sharing ideas, computer code, and solutions.

In Kingsford, 30 teams competed from across the western and central Upper Peninsula in 2.5-minute matches. Red received the Yeti Cup and were on the finalist alliance. Blue took home the first place Design award and were on the winning alliance. Silver won the first place Think award, second place Inspire award, second place Design award, and were also on the winning alliance.  

In addition, teams Blue and Silver qualified for the state championship in Battle Creek Dec. 12-14. Team Red is looking to secure an opportunity for advancement to the state championship at the Pellston qualifier on Nov. 23. 

SnowBots teams are sponsored by: Michigan Department of Education, GS Engineering, Destination Unstoppable, Boundary Labs, ThermoAnalytics, IR Telemetrics, Michigan Tech Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Michigan Tech Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department, Monte Consulting, and Houghton Portage Township Schools. The Kingsford event was sponsored in part by Michigan Technological University College of Computing. The Copper Country was also well represented with 18 community volunteers supporting the event.

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