Platteville FIRST Robotics team takes first

March 20, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE - The Platteville for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics team recently qualified for nationals after earning first place out of 55 teams during regional competition at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo., located outside of St. Louis. More than 800 teams from all over the United States, Canada, Brazil and Puerto Rico competed at 23 regional competitions located around the country.

The Platteville FIRST Robotics team consists of 27-30 members comprised of students from UWP, Belmont High School, Mineral Point Middle School, Platteville High School and Platteville Middle School. Approximately half of the team consists of UWP students who serve as mentors to the remainder of the team.

The team was first given the instructions for this year competition on Jan. 4. They were then given six weeks to construct the project following the guidelines received. On Feb. 18, the completed product was shipped to a warehouse located in St. Charles to await regional competition.

This year's project was to construct two robots that would compete to see which team's robots could knock over, pick up and move as many 73-quart rubber containers to their side of the playing field within two minutes. An interactive human player from each team is given 10 seconds to run onto the field, place up to four containers in scoring position and return to the starting position prior to the two-minute playing time. The interactive human player from the Platteville team was Eric Shea from Belmont High School. For the first 15 seconds of playing time, the robot is set in autonomous mode. During the remaining time, the robot is driven using remote control operated by student drivers. The three main drivers for the Platteville team were Ryan Spensly from Belmont, Kevin Cisler from Mineral Point and Jared Woock from Platteville High School. Points are awarded for each container placed in scoring position with stacked layers of containers earning multiple points.

The Platteville FIRST Robotics team only lost one out of the 14 competitions they participated in during regional competition.

Technical advisor Clyde Holverson owes much of the team's success to the variety of strong leaders in the group. The team is lead by President Mark Cody from Beaver Dam who is a senior majoring in industrial engineering. Vice president Kevin Casper, a senior majoring in computer programming from Belmont, was responsible for programming the robot for the 15-second autonomous mode and filling the role as Cisler's mentor. Senior Jeff Steidl, originally from Tomah, and majoring in electrical engineering, is in charge of public relations for the organization. Treasurer Lee Zastrow, a native of Watertown, is a senior majoring in computer science.

The team's co-project managers are Jeff Mathes, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering, and Dan Wolf, a senior majoring in electrical engineering, each from Appleton.

Mechanical engineering professor Lynn Schlager serves as the team's academic advisor.

National competition will take place on April 10-12 at Reliant Park in Houston, Texas. The Astrodome will be used as a pit area for teams to practice and prepare between competitions.

Platteville FIRST Robotics Team was started nine years ago as a student organization at UWP to offer hands-on experience for engineering students. Since then, the team has involved area high school and middle school students with plans for more robot demonstrations and reconstructions during non-competition times of the year.

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