(Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette)
In after-school sessions throughout the winter, Shelby Hudson, Dakota Baumgartner, Trevor Pate and Tristan Thomas -- students of MHS automotive technology teacher Ron Barger -- built and modified a robot kit to compete in the 2009-10 Midwest VEX Robotics "Clean Sweep" tournament hosted Feb. 27 by Mount Michael Benedictine School in Elkhorn.
Barger told board of education members at their April meeting that the MHS team was sponsored by the Create Foundation and Nebraska Public Power District, which provided the VEX Robotics kit, accessories and curriculum package valued at $925, and paid for competition membership (75) and registration ($100).
Barger said that NPPD public relations consultant Kim Liebig helped coordinate MHS involvement in the contest, and NPPD employees Aaron Jones, Jeff Gette and Don Cook, all of Ogallala, worked with team members throughout the construction and programming process and followed them to the Mount Michael contest.
Competition included a 15-minute interview with judges, technical inspections of the robot and several rounds of competition to narrow down the 25 teams attending. Each robot was to perform autonomously for 20 seconds, functioning on programming that team members entered into its memory; and for two minutes of manual control using the hand-held controller.
Barger said that MHS Principal Jerry Smith was responsible for forwarding information about the robotics competition to Barger, and for arranging for school-funded transportation to and one night's lodging in Elkhorn/Omaha.
Barger told educators, "The students thoroughly enjoyed their work with the robot. They hope that the project will be continued next year and that a sponsor can be found." Barger is retiring at the end of the 2009-10 school year, after 32 years as auto tech instructor at MHS.