By TIM CLEVELAND
In the five-year history of the Austintown Fitch High School Robotics program, the team has done very well, with a multitude of second-place finishes, including last year in the state championships.
The keep up or even improve on that level of success, there is a big cost involved, necessitating fundraising efforts. One such fundraiser was offered Feb. 9 at Fitch High School with a pancake breakfast.
“The entire program costs $25,000 to run,” team technical mentor Andy Yantes said. “It’s $5,000 for the entire first event and $4,000 for the second event. That’s just to walk in the door, not to build the robot.”
Yantes said the goal is $500-$1,000 for every fundraiser the team puts on.
In Robotics competitions, teams are given an objective and six weeks to come up with the parts and design and build the robot. The Fitch team has 22 members.
The team’s first competition was offered Feb. 13-15 in Troy, N.Y., with the second two weeks after that in Pittsburgh, Pa. Other competitions will take place in Columbus and Cincinnati. If the team does well enough there, the nationals will be in St. Louis.
The competitions attract more than 60 teams, some from countries such as Turkey, Israel and Brazil.
Fitch was given its objective the first week of January and came up with a robot that can move and shoot a two-foot-wide exercise ball. In past years, the team has come up with robots that can throw frisbees and shoot basketballs.
“Every year it’s a new idea,” Yantes said.
Third-year team member Wesley Pringle enjoys the companionship that comes with being on the Robotics team.
“There’s a lot of cool kids on the team,” said Pringle, a junior. “I love working on the robot. It’s my favorite thing to do.
“I actually like it this year since they’re (the competitions) farther away. You get to stay in the hotel for both competitions, which is nice.”