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Brighton Robotics Team Receives $10,000 Grant From Novi Company

The Brighton High School FIRST Robotics Team will compete at Kettering University March 1-3.

Brighton Robotics Team Receives $10,000 Grant From Novi Company

The Brighton Board of Education is expected to accept a $10,000 grant from Autodesk in Novi for the Brighton High School Robotics Team to build a robot that will compete in FIRST Robotics Competitions.

Per Board policy, all gifts, grants or bequests more than $1,000 have to be officially accepted by board members during a meeting.

Brighton Robotics - also called BUG, as in Brighton United Geeks - is still a new team. It's rookie season was 2011, and as such, they struggle financially compared to some of the other more established teams, according to Charles Nestor, a team parent and mentor.

"Last year the team was struggling and I asked what were the issues, and the main issue was money," Nestor said. "They had to take their existing robots apart and scavenge them for parts. Most teams try to do fundraising so they can keep their old robots. They build small inventory of robots, parts and whatnot. Brighton been struggling financially. So I said I'd help. I applied for the grant from Autodesk and they donated software as well."

It costs teams $5,000 just to enter the competition and get a starter kit with the bare minimum of parts.

According to Nestor, there are larger teams that spend as much as $30,000 to $60,000 building their robots.

"Smaller teams typically spend a couple of thousand on top of the entry fee," he said. "Everything that has been done up until now was basically parents and mentors donating the equipment needed. So this money will definitely help."

FIRST Robotics is an international organization that helps students aspiring to be future engineers and pioneers in science, technology and more. There are more than 50,000 participating high-school students and more than 2,500 high school teams FIRST Robotics teams worldwide as well as approximately $16 million in college scholarships are awarded annually according to the FIRST website, usfirst.org.

Nestor, who attended meets last year, said FIRST Robotics is a great organization for kids to get involved in.

This season, the team will spend a total of six weeks building a disc-throwing, pyramid-climbing robot to compete in a game called Ultimate Ascent (see YouTube video on the right).

About 15 BHS students drive to the GM Proving Grounds in Milford every day after school to work on the team's robot which will compete for the first time at Kettering University March 1-3.

"There's not a lot of stuff at the school to actually build a robot," Nestor, a GM employee, said. "I thought it would be best have out here at proving grounds because we have a lot of facilities. But I'd like to get back into the school, you get more participation if you keep it at the school. So our hope is to figure out how to do that. It's such a good program, I'd hate to see it dwindle and die."

The team would like to thank their current sponsors of GM, Rolison Hardware, JC Penney, Autodesk, Dynamic Technology, Done In Extreme Shop, Duncan Chiropractic, Pizza Island, St. Patrick Church, the Brighton Optimist Club, PTO, Regal Recycle and Signs by Tomorrow.

Nestor said they are still looking for more local sponsors. For more information on the team or to learn how to become a sponsor or mentor, visit the BUG website at www.brightonbug.com/home.

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