Since then, 2,300 teams from 49 states and 12 countries have been feverishly working on their robots. The FIRST program is designed so that the kids have only 6 weeks to build their robot from a kit of parts (and a Microsoft Kinect), with no instructions – one of the many life lessons that are part of this “competition of the mind” – and that 6 week time frame is a significant commitment of time and effort that is clearly understood by everyone. Geneva High School’s Robovikes team (whose logo is a cross between the school’s “Vikings” mascot and Robocop as he must look on the weekends when he’s working in the shop in his basement) meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school for about four hours, and then for about six hours on Saturdays. And usually even more time as the competition nears.
Walking into their team meeting is like stepping into any team meeting of teenagers – they’re working, chatting, teasing, and laughing. There are robot “guts” all over the floor (from last year’s robot) and the energy, while not frantic, is palpable. They’re excited about what they’re building, maybe a little anxious about the upcoming competitions, but also looking forward to something that they understand, in their fourth year as a team, will be a blast. The team’s results have gotten better each successive year since their program began in 2009.
In addition to Mary Keyzer, a teacher at Geneva High School and the Robovikes coach, the team has two principal adult mentors who have volunteered countless hours working with the team – Kevin Keyzer, a ceramics engineer and Mary’s husband, and Joe Kane, who is the Prepress Department Manager at The Label Printers. Kevin’
Anna Green, the only rookie and the only girl on the team got involved because she’s interested in becoming a chemical engineer or a particle physicist. “I thought it would be interesting – I’m still iffy about a career, and I think [FIRST] will give me a way to figure out more about what I want to do.”
Mike Miltner is working a laptop computer and a cell phone – pretty much simultaneously. He’s using the computer to try to find a carpet source for the game field (preferably someone who’ll donate it), and he’s on the phone with his Dad, Dennis Miltner, about finding a source for a certain piece of hardware. This is Mike’s 2nd year with the Robovikes and for him, “it’s still fun. I do everything but programming – design, assembly, finding suppliers…everything.”
When asked what part of the robot they’re working on, or want to work on, most of the Robovikes reply that they just do what’s needed – build the backboard, research suppliers, dismantle last year’s robot to build a prototype “Beta ‘Bot” – pretty much everything. A couple of the kids want, above all else, to be selected to be on the drive team. A couple of other kids, above all else, want nothing to do with that high profile job. Asked who on the team has basketball skills, Jack Wilbur replies, “the robot has to have the basketball skills – well, the robot’s code.”
ROBOVIKE Team Members:
Seniors: Trevor Deem, Keane Hensley, Josh Kilmer, Jake Urben, Jack Wilbur
Juniors: Derik Baer, Mitchell Baer, Will Camacho, Matt Fee, Mike Miltner, Justin Mui
Sophomores: Anna Green, Grif McDonell, Will Morrison, Mike Phillips, Quade Spellman, Ken Wendt,
About THE LABEL PRINTERS:
The Label Printers, Aurora, IL, started in business in 1967, manufacturing simple label constructions in a 1,000 square foot space, with 1 employee, serving the local Chicago market.
Today, the company has evolved into one of the 100 largest converters in the United States. The Label Printers owns and operates two facilities in Aurora, Illinois, manufacturing and distributing labels and packaging products to thousands of customers in 25 countries around the world. The company’s packaging products are certified to ISO 9001 standards, and their quality is backed up by their 99.6% Quality Acceptance Rating.
The Label Printers is a member of NASPO (North American Security Products Organization)
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST ® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and nearly $15 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for 6 to 9-year-olds.
2011 marked the 20th season of the FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST has grown from 1 event to nearly 60 and from 28 teams to over 2000. Much has changed over the first twenty seasons…but our key goals remain the same; our commitment to Gracious Professionalism™
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The Label Printers began in 1967, manufacturing simple label constructions in a 1,000 sq. ft. space, with 1 employee, serving the Chicago market. They are one of the largest converters in the U.S., selling labels & packaging products around the world.