Hillman robotics team returns after short hiatus

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Wyatt Libby, right, solders a wire while Xavier Baker watches at Hillman Jr./Sr. High School on Friday. The Hillman FIRST Robotics team is back after a couple years hiatus and ready to get this robotics season under way.

HILLMAN – The FIRST Robotics season started last week and the Hillman Jr./Sr. High School robotics team is preparing for their first season after a couple of years without a team.

There currently are 12 students on the team, with 11 of the students being new to FIRST Robotics.

“I’m really excited for this season and for the game especially because it’s pretty unique,” senior Wyatt Libby said. “This is going to be my fifth year of robotics, so having that kind of experience of knowing everything that I do, I think that this game and this year is going to be really interesting on how it all plays out.”

Teacher Jesse Pattison is the mentor for the team and is excited for what this season will bring since it’s his first season with FIRST robotics.

“I’m kind of diving in head first,” he said. “I didn’t know anything going into it and now that we’ve gotten this process going, I am absolutely obsessed with it, like I’m fascinated by the process of what FIRST does and how everything is structured.”

Pattison said robotics is a great opportunity for students to learn.

“I’m really excited to see what we learn as a group and what we can build as a group even before we get to the competitions,” he said.

Senior James McQueen joined robotics for the experience it can give in different fields, such as building, electronics, and mechanics.

Libby joined robotics because he likes the soft skills robotics teaches students.

“In robotics, it really teaches you, not only how to build and work on robots, but it teaches you how to communicate, especially during very complex and technical ideas between people,” he said.

The team currently is signed up for competitions in Gaylord and Alpena.

“I’m excited about the competitions that we’re going to,” Libby said. “I haven’t personally been to these competitions before because I’ve typically gone to competitions downstate. It’s going to be a different experience for me.”

Libby said he has seen a lot more teams in the area, which builds the competition between the teams. He also said there’s a lot of strategy that goes with FIRST Robotics and the objectives this year are simpler compared to past years.

“Some years, there’s been more complex objectives with less strategy involved,” Libby said. “I think it’s going to be fun, not just to design and build a robot, but to also play the game because there’s going to be a lot of mental work that goes into it.”

The team was one of the teams that went to Alpena High School last weekend for the kickoff event and the team found it beneficial. Pattison said Melissa Doubek of Alpena High School invitee them to Alpena’s kickoff event.

“I was absolutely amazed by what they were able to do in 24 hours and we’re just very thankful that they did that for us,” Pattison said. “It ended up being a great experience having it at Alpena by having the small group setting and breaking it up and also getting an idea of what the game was going to be and different things like that.”

Pattison is thankful Alpena invited the Hillman team to its kickoff event.

“They did a phenomenal job and I’m very impressed,” he said. “It was a last-minute thing and their kids did a great job of breaking everyone up into groups and kind of going through the different things that we need to think about as the season goes on. It was a great experience.”

Pattison said the team is always looking for community support, whether it’s through donations or by being a mentor.

“Any experience that people can give us would be valuable to us,” Pattison said. “If people want to help us, they are free to contact the school.”

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688.