Materion-Sponsored Robotics Team Headed to World Championships
A middle school robotics team sponsored by Materion’s Lorain, Ohio, facility is headed to the VEX Robotics World Championships in Louisville, Ky., at the end of April. Team Titanious—one of three teams on the Longfellow Robotics Team in Lorain—qualified in the VEX Ohio State Championship as one of the top 180 middle school teams in the world. Middle school teams from 42 countries will compete in the World Championships.
“It has been great to watch the Longfellow teams’ technical growth and their competition performance and know Materion was able to support their efforts,” said Lorain Plant Manager Nathan Goebel. “We are always on the lookout for ways to support the local community. For several years we sponsored the local high school’s girls’ volleyball and boys’ basketball teams. In mid school year 2016-2017, we were contacted by the Longfellow middle school robotics team about sponsorship. We felt promoting STEM activities was a better fit for Materion, so we sponsored the team for the balance of the 2016-2017 year and for all of the 2017-2018 year.”
Sponsors are essential to robotics teams, where a single robot can cost $1,800 to $2,000 a year, explained Denise Fahrney, Longfellow career tech teacher and head coach of the robotics team. About 75% of the monies to run the team—including uniforms, building supplies, and hotels expenses—are raised and covered by sponsors.
“We greatly appreciate all the support we get from Materion and our other sponsors,’ said Deborah Hansen, retired Longfellow career tech teacher and robotics team assistant coach. “With their help we are able to purchase the needed items to design, build, program, and compete competitively. We are looking forward to representing the city of Lorain, the state of Ohio, and our sponsors at the World Championships.”
As a result of the sponsors’ support, the entire robotics team—not just Titanious—will be traveling to Louisville to experience the Championships, which encompass high school and college divisions in addition to the middle school competition. That is appropriate, said Fahrney, given that all three of the teams (Chronus, Prometheus and Titanious) were “super-strong” this year, winning a total of 14 tournament trophies.
The performance is impressive considering this is only the fourth year Longfellow has had a VEX robotics team and only the second year since it moved up from “club” status to a full-fledged team, on par with basketball, volleyball, soccer and other sports teams.
Being on the robotics team is a big commitment, said Fahrney. “We are a year-round sport starting in August and running through March that requires over eight hours a week including some weekends. We express to the kids when they apply that they are committing to the entire school year to the robotics team.”
Word of the team’s success has not only gotten around the school, it has also gotten around the whole town. There are students that have transferred from other middle schools because they want to be on the Longfellow robotics team, said Fahrney.
Win or lose in Louisville, the team has the support of Materion. “We intend to get more involved,” said Goebel, “Our next step is to mentor or otherwise support the team with some engineering help.”
And who knows what the longer term may hold?
“If you ask a lot of the girls and boys on our team, they will tell you they want to do engineering or some type of science,” said Fahrney. “After robotics, they are totally invested in wanting to do that kind of work in their future.”