Lapeer East Robotics Team receives new sponsor, heads to District competitions

Armed with a new sponsor, a new robot and a 22-student team the Lapeer East High School FIRST Robotics Team is set for its first regional competition at Kettering University in Flint on March 5 and 6.

The team showed off its new robot Tuesday night at CCS Robotics on Imlay City Road. On hand were continuing sponsor Tony Diodato, owner of CCS Robotics and new sponsor PNC Bank and representatives, Rick Chown, vice-president, Leanne Peterman, assistant vice-president, and Michelle Griffis, branch manager at the Lapeer Main branch, 948 South Main Street.

Mr. Chown presented a check for $3,000 to the team and the team’s advisor, Mr. George Mavis, industrial arts teacher at Lapeer East High School.

Students demonstrated the new robot which will compete with dozens of area robotics teams in a game of robot soccer. Each FIRST Robotics team receives an identical kit of electronic parts and a set of rules describing the game in January and then has six weeks to design and assemble the robot.

Students get technical advice and mentoring from Mr. Diodato and Mr. Mavis, but are responsible for building the robot.

“The students all have great ideas,” Mr. Diodato said.

In addition to fun, the six week build period has a serious side for Diodato who has hired three former Lapeer East graduates and former robotics team members for his business.

“It’s really like a six week job interview,” Mr. Diodato said. Other graduates have gone on to study engineering at Kettering University.

The competition events bring family, friends and many fans, said Mr. Mavis.

(Photo: Lapeer East Robotics Team. Rick Chown, vice-president of PNC Bank (in suit) presents a check for $3,000 to the team. Mr. George Mavis (far left teacher and advisor) and continuing sponsor Tony Diodato of CCS Robotics (far right) pose with the team)

“It’s a basketball game atmosphere,” said Mr. Mavis. “Bring you ear plugs.”
With a successful result at District competitions at Kettering or Ann Arbor on March 11, 12 and 13, the Lapeer East team will move on to State competition at Eastern Michigan University April 1, 2, 3. The national FIRST competition will be held in Atlanta April 15, 16 and 17 at the Georgia Dome.

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