AutoPilots win robotics rookie award

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CENTER LINE, Mich. (March 16, 2019) – It was a historic two days for De La Salle Collegiate’s FIRST Robotics Competition team.

The AutoPilots received the Rookie All-Star Award at last weekend’s FRC Michigan district championship held at Center Line High School.

“Our goals were to have a working robot that scored points,” AutoPilots coach Rob Black said. “But the bigger goal of all that was to win the Rookie All-Star Award, which we accomplished. For us to accomplish those feats was incredible for our guys. Everybody did their part; everybody had their role, whether it was part of the pit crew, or driving, or scouting in the stands, or pitching the all-star award to judges. They did their jobs.”

The rookie award celebrates the first-year team that exemplifies a young but strong partnership effort, as well as implements the mission of FIRST to inspire students to learn more about science and technology.

In their first competitive match since 2009, the AutoPilots and their Blue Alliance partners – Romeo and International Academy of Macomb – raced to a 47-34 win over the Red Alliance.

De La Salle posted its highest point total of the districts when they helped lift the Red Alliance to a 58-42 win in their final match. The AutoPilots finished the districts with a 5-7-0 alliance record.

The AutoPilots were among 40 high school teams, including Catholic school teams from Regina, Bishop Foley, Cardinal Mooney, University of Detroit Jesuit and Notre Dame Prep.

Combining the excitement of athletic competition with the rigors of science and technology, FIRST Robotics is described as the ultimate sport for the mind. Under strict rules, limited resources, and an intense six-week time limit, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team brand, hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors.

“It’s like going to a high school football game or a high school basketball game,” Black said. “There are MCs announcing the matches, introducing the teams and sponsors – it’s sports for nerds, which is awesome!”

De La Salle’s 17-member team is led by team president, junior Andrew Rusu. The remaining members of the squad are student mentor Dmitriy Klein; designers Joshua Severson, Cameron Kessler, Joshua Spagnuolo, Matthew Muttkow; programmers Ryan Hensley, Quinten Porter, Cody Ness, Ethan Arun; builders Joe Kopke, David Chomicz, Lemmy Lin, Matthew Nyguyen, Aidan Morphew; public relations Vincent Motowski and Alex Gasier.

Black is joined on the De La Salle coaching staff by Ron Barger and mentors Pietro Pellerito and Cory Ness.

The AutoPilots plan to compete at the districts at Troy Athens, March 28-30.

“We are planning on fixing up our robot,” Black said. “We had a couple mechanical issues that need to be squared away. Hopefully do a little more practicing before we get there and compete again.”

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