Businesses help MHS, ABIS robotics teams

By Eileen Oldfield Staff Writer
   Robotics teams from Manville High School and Alexander Batcho Intermediate School will field robots in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) — with help from a $3,500 donation from National Starch and Chemical Corporation, of Bridgewater, and other area businesses.
   The high school team received $1,500 of the donation, and the Alexander Batcho Intermediate School Lego League team received $2,000.
   According to Mustang Robotics team advisor and high school math teacher Bruce Reisman, the funds help cover entrance fees, transportation, tools, and robot parts.
   ”It costs $6,000 for the initial kit and entrance fee, plus an additional $500-$2,000 to build a robot, plus $1,000-$5,00 for a practice field, and prototypes,” said Mr. Reisman. “This year, we had not planned to enter the regional competition, so we requested only minimal funding to cover robot parts and off-season entrance fees.”
   Though the Mustang Team did not intend to enter the FIRST Regional competitions, scheduled for Feb. 28 to March 1, two additional partners’ help will allow the team to compete. Team leaders Nick Pillsbury and Dominika Lastovickova recruited five senior engineering students from Wilkes University, of Wilkes-Barre Pa., and AdvanTech International, of Somerset to help the team design and build their robot.
   The team also received a grant from FIRST to cover the $6,000 regional competition entrance fee.
   During each season, the teams design, build, and operate a robot that completes a task from FIRST. In addition to being judged on robot function and task completion, robots are judged against each other.
   The Board of Education accepted the money at their Nov. 13 meeting, and placed the money in bank account for each group.
   ”All donations are set up in a separate account,” said Mr. Reilly. “At that point, the advisor does purchase orders for things that need to be purchased.”
   Teams typically spend 40 to 80 hours each week designing their robot, said Mr. Reisman. The building phase occurs between the end of January to mid February.