Parcells robotics team stands out in state

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 25, 2014

 The Blown Fuses — the Parcells Middle School robotics team — has been invited to the state-level robotics competition.

The Blown Fuses — the Parcells Middle School robotics team — has been invited to the state-level robotics competition.

Photo provided by Grosse Pointe Public Schools

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Parcells Middle School students are showing their mettle in this season’s robotics team competitions.

The Parcells team, the Blown Fuses, fared well in the recent regional competition, and they’re now headed to compete in the state-level robotics competition. They’ve earned some top honors, as well.

“I am truly impressed by the students’ accomplishment; being a finalist in the Inspire Award, which is the highest honor the FIRST Robotics organization bestows, is a credit to how well they performed under pressure and what great representatives they are of our school district,” said Eileen Reickert, team coordinator, team mentor and mother to one of the students on the team.

Others in the school also are excited by what they’re seeing with this club.

“We are very excited and incredibly proud of our robotics team, the Blown Fuses,” Assistant Principal Steve Wolf said in an email. “They have represented Parcells Middle School and the (Grosse Pointe Public School System) very well in just their first year as a club. 

“Parcells also wants to thank the Reickert family for their efforts in teaming up with North (High School’s) robotics team,” he said. “Together, they have created a wonderful opportunity for our students and have helped spark their interest with science, technology, engineering and math, which is so critically important in our 21st century job market.”

Robotics teams are tasked with designing, building and programming their robots for the competitions.

Reickert was excited when she heard that a team was going to form at Parcells, especially since her older children have been involved in Grosse Pointe North’s robotics team, the Gearheads. Her oldest was the team’s captain before graduating, and her youngest is part of North’s team as “an active part of their pit crew and build team.”

“I have been so impressed with what a positive influence that FIRST Robotics, the Gearheads team 1189, and all of their mentors and especially their coach, Don Pata, have had on the students involved that when I heard about a FIRST Tech Challenge team starting at Parcells, I knew I wanted my son Evan to be a part of it,” she said in an email. “It takes a lot of time and after-school hours to run this program, but it is time well spent. The support we have received from the community has been integral to our success and in a large part due to the effort of the kids to get out there and meet people.”

The team has been able to work out of the Gearheads shop this year, and they are mentored by the older students.

“The creative ideas our kids have, tempered with the experience of the high-schoolers and their mentors, has really given the Blown Fuses the opportunity to excel,” Reickert said. “One serious goal we have for next year is finding an educator who would be interested in leading us.”

After dedicating the last several years to the program, Pata is planning to devote more time to his family, so they will be looking for a new sponsor.

“We hope to find another strong educator to sponsor the FIRST robotics teams in our district and work to continue the tradition of excellence (Pata) has begun,” Reickert said. “Technology is the future; FIRST can help our kids truly excel.”

The Parcells team is looking to continue teaming up with the North crew in the future.

They are going to receive an Ekocycle Cube Printer through 3D Systems and the Coca-Cola Company because of an application essay written by team captain Ritika Pansare and her controls team. It will help them manufacture their own parts in the future.

“We’ve already spoken to the Gearheads about learning to CAD from them and letting them use it, too,” Reickert said. CAD stands for “computer-aided design.”

The Blown Fuses have another competition coming up in early December before the state-level competition early next year.

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