Fruitport’s F.I.R.S.T. Robotics team will compete in the St. Joseph District Event this weekend. Coach Joe Hebert said they plan to use the competition as a way to see their strengths and areas for improvement before competing in other events in Michigan.
In addition to competing on the field, Fruitport High School senior Kaylee Meyer said they’re striving to receive the F.I.R.S.T. (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Chairman’s Award. After receiving the Engineering Inspirational Award last year, Meyer said they have the confidence to go for the Chairman’s Award because of their work with the community.
Fruitport’s robotics program has grown to include elementary, middle and high school levels. In growing the program, Hebert said high school students have gone back to mentor younger Fruitport students.
Additionally, Meyer, 17, said that she wrote an essay for the Woodie Flowers Award to recognize coach Jeremy Martinez for the mentoring he does for students.
The 2018 team includes 24 students, 15 mentors and three coaches. More than 30 businesses sponsor the team, and Hebert said they are always looking for more.
Through Sydney Bleich’s four years with the robotics team, the Fruitport senior said she’s gained a variety of experiences. Bleich, 18, is part of the visual team and also works with its marketing. Bleich said her interest in computers led her to join the team during her freshman year.
While F.I.R.S.T. Robotics can be “intense,” Bleich said students gain a lot from their involvement.
“It’s definitely worth it,” she said.
Bleich recently used her passion about programming to make a presentation to the Fruitport school board to request considering a programming class.
Next fall, Bleich will be in the five-year dual-degree engineering program through St. Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame, working toward a bachelor’s degree from each institution.
In preparing for her last season, Meyer said she hopes younger teammates will be able to carry on the legacy with the community work they’ve started. She said part of that includes handing off the new website she created for all of Fruitport’s F.I.R.S.T. Robotics teams.
In looking back at her four years with the Techno Trojans, Meyer said the team means everything to her, and it’s helped her set a plan for college and a career. She plans to attend Ferris State University in the fall to study mechanical engineering.
“This is like a second home to me,” Meyer said of the Fruitport robotics team.