Microsoft Team of the Week – Team 6865

Thank you to Microsoft for supporting FIRST Robotics Competition! Throughout competition season, we will get to know Microsoft-sponsored teams. This week we profile FIRST team 6865 from Manitoulin, Island. Check out the update they sent on their progress so far this year!

In our second year, the 6865 Manitoulin Metal Robotics Team is busy at work getting ready for the Destination Deep Space competition season. The team is excited to have many new members who are eager to develop technical skills, coding knowledge, and design ideas. The energy at our first team meeting of the year was infectious.

Last year, in our rookie season, we had a team of six. We have now grown to 18 members. Alumni Mentor and Laurentian University student Cassandra Kuntsi said, “As a member of last year’s rookie team, coming to the first meeting of the year gave me hope for the future of Manitoulin Metal. There were so many new faces and young students who were prepared to put in the effort and spirit that we need to keep our team growing. I knew right away that we were going to have a successful season, in terms of building a strong team to carry us through the next generation of Manitoulin Metal members.”

Grade 12 Lead Programmer JD Herlehy is excited for “the many different areas of study that robotics has to offer.” He adds, “This will help prepare and give me experience for the different kinds of classes I might have in university.  But the team is also about making connections: “You don’t have to be a scholar to be in robotics. Most of the build team is made up of future tradespeople, and some people are completely new, allowing for an opportunity to teach others and watch them grow in their abilities.”

According to Amber Marie Wahl, Grade 11 Manitoulin Metal Team Manager, “Our robotics team matters to me because of the opportunities and skills that it brings to young people. I have seen first-hand how this team has enabled our young minds to pursue interests and learn skills that otherwise would not have been possible. Robotics is so much more than just parts and metal, it’s the creativity and hours of hard work that is rewarding. As a girl interested in STEM and in business it has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams and strive towards my goals because I know I have this team’s support.”

We continue to struggle with the challenges of rural living. The weather causes many issues. We have had nine snow days during this year’s build season, resulting in increased stress for mentors and team members. The long travel distances to our upcoming competitions are also costly and time-consuming, which is hard on the young team  Because we are only in our second year, we had to recruit a lot of junior students who don’t have the experience that our seniors do. All of the challenges we face are building resilience and determination in the team. It requires creative use of resources, outstanding communication, and ongoing collaboration.

Manitoulin Metal

As we approach the end of build season, we will shift our energy to promotion, safety, and strategy to ensure a successful launch at competitions and beyond.  We are excited about this year’s game because we have options for the beginning of the game. Having a choice between manual with a camera and autonomous opened up time and resources within the team to work on other parts of the preparation including more hands for engineering.

We are grateful to our local and corporate sponsors like Microsoft who support us and believe in the sustainability and value of the Robotics Program at Manitoulin Secondary School.