Roseville students take home honors for robotics, industrial arts

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published May 28, 2019

 One of the Square One robotics leagues challenges that the Roseville High School  team had to complete this year was converting a Fisher Price Power Wheels car into a fully autonomous vehicle to compete in regional and state competitions.

One of the Square One robotics leagues challenges that the Roseville High School team had to complete this year was converting a Fisher Price Power Wheels car into a fully autonomous vehicle to compete in regional and state competitions.

Photo provided by Robert Smitka

 Roseville High School student Kyle Garlinghouse shows the hunting bow he crafted, which took first place in his category at the MITES industrial arts competition.

Roseville High School student Kyle Garlinghouse shows the hunting bow he crafted, which took first place in his category at the MITES industrial arts competition.

Photo provided by Joe Genest

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ROSEVILLE — The students of Roseville High School are raking in the wins — and not just in athletics.

Roseville High School’s Square One robotics team — Roseville Engineering Science and Technology — and the school’s Michigan Industrial Technology Education Society industrial arts team both recently took home high-ranking victories in their respective competitions.

Roseville Engineering Science and Technology

While most schools compete in the FIRST Robotics league, Roseville High School competes in the Square One Robotics league, which focuses more on skills and applications related to the automotive industry.

“A robotics program like this gives students skills that the workforce is demanding today,” said Bob Smitka, the REST team coach and Roseville High School science teacher. “Square One has a stronger focus on the auto industry, and a big part of that is autonomous vehicles. … There are so many jobs that demand skills in coding and engineering and other fields that they learn in robotics. Three of our students graduating this year are going to attend Kettering (University) in the fall and study this exact subject.”

This was the fourth year the REST team has been operating. The team competed in three different competitions this year in which it took home high honors.

“We competed in one underwater competition in April here at Roseville High School on April 13,” said Smitka. “The teams had to design an underwater robot and use it in the pool. We took first place in the advanced robotics category and second in presentation, in which we talked about our innovation, the engineering that went into our robot, our public outreach and the roles our teammates play.”

The two other competitions were hosted by Kettering University May 11.

“Square One hosted the Innovative Design Competition where teams had to take a brand-new Fisher Price Power Wheel to make it an autonomous vehicle that can sense its environment, follow GPS instructions, sense color and perform platooning — which is programing a vehicle to follow the car in front of them while keeping a safe distance,” Smitka said.

In the autonomous division, the REST team won first place in its division as well as the Eisbrenner Public Relations Award, which is given to teams that reach out to other teams and help them out and also share what they are doing with the public. Also contributing to the Eisbrenner victory was the team’s creation of a YouTube tutorial for other teams, and that the team shared a lot of its code for programming its autonomous vehicles as an open-source resource for other teams.

“The (other event at Kettering) was the mini-innovative design challenge,” Smitka said. “The teams are given a radio-controlled car and are tasked with tearing it apart, redesigning it, and decide how to rebuild it to improve performance and meet goals,” he explained. “This year, those goals included some autonomous goals such as following a line on its own and object recognition so it could realize when a wall was in front of it. There’s also a racing aspect at the competition.”

Two seniors on the team, Jason Sedluk and Andrew Pillsbury, also won scholarships through Square One’s scholarship network for their work in the autonomous vehicle program at the event.

MITES

MITES stands for the Michigan Industrial Technology Education Society, and it’s a volunteer organization made up of teachers, created to allow students to show off what they learn in various shop and career education classes. At the end of the year, students are invited to compete and have their projects judged.

“What my students bring is woodworking projects,” said Roseville High School teacher and team leader Ron Holmes. “There’s also welding shown on display there, as well as (computer-aided design) drawings, metalworking, auto and building trade projects. It’s pretty much all the industrial arts.”

The regional competition took place at Dakota High School in Macomb Township May 3, and the state competition was at the Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire May 8-11. Several Roseville High School students took home awards at the state competition.

“This year and last year, we’ve taken first place at regionals and then also won at states,” said Holmes. “There’s various categories, and three of our students and one of our group projects placed first, and another student placed second. One of them was a tool chest, the group project was a coffee table, one was a hunting bow and two were end tables.”

Both Smitka and Holmes said that programs such as robotics and MITES allow students new avenues for success and not only give them training for future job paths, but also grow skills such as teamwork, perseverance and problem-solving.

“I wish people knew more about these programs and how many job skills students accumulated because of them,” Holmes said. “They learn life skills, and students are offered major career opportunities as a result. … It’s all unbelievable. We have so many students move into these trades as a career and make a good living without even having to go to college.”

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