Next stop Seattle for ROV winners

ALPENA – The Thunder Bay Junior High sixth and seventh grade Robot Factory 4-H Club team Underwater Rescue Research Company placed first in the Ranger Class at the Great Lakes Regional MATE ROV Competition on Saturday, taking top scores in the company and poster design, pool missions, and barely missing the top spot for the engineering presentation points.

“The day went fantastic,” coach Bob Thomson said. “Sarah Waters did a great job coordinating the event. The whole thing just flowed smoothly and everything was right on time.”

The team took second in last year’s regional competition and traveled to Orlando, Fla., to compete against high school and college teams in their same class, where they placed in the final top two-thirds of the international competition. Team members have high hopes of doing even better at internationals this year in Seattle and placing high at that level for the first time again competing against teams of mostly high school and college level members.

The Robot Factory 4-H Club team was in good standing after its first try at its pool missions, but it was the second attempt that really put it out in front of the competition.

“The second round they nailed it out of the park on their missions,” Thomson said. “The kids exploded with excitement. Here are sixth- and seventh-graders and they are the best engineering robotics team in the region. Now they have to go against the best in the world at internationals.”

Second place for the Ranger Class went to Melvindale High School. Both teams will move on to the International ROV competition in Seattle in June, representing the Great Lakes Region.

“I’m extremely proud of what the student’s have been capable of producing,” Thomson said. “The students will be working to raise funds to travel to internationals this year.”

All Saints Catholic School’s High Speed Research team, and Alpena High School’s team were among those that receiving a Team Spirit Award for their engineering skills, presentation, and safety portions of the competition. Award winning All Saints team was comprised of first and second graders Clayton Thomson, Morgan McConnell, Finn Williams, and William Shultz. The winning Alpena High School team members were Scott Parkham, Stephen Torok, Cory McConnell, and Courtney VanWagoner.

Local Alpena teams also placed with high marks in the Scout class missions, the design, and the engineering presentations during the competition.

“Our Sanborn teams swept the scout class, winning first, second, and third, with a majority of their points coming from the ELA Components (posters and the engineering presentation) combined with the missions in the pool,” Thomson said.

First Place in the Scout Class went to the Robot Factory 4-H Club, Blue Eagle Research team, from Alpena. Team members were Dylan Fleck, Rose Cornelius, Kyle Barbeau, Justin Seymour, and Cloe Maskell.

The Black Widow Research Team came in second place with members Caleb Eaton, Jordan Schultz, Megan Zuchowski, Lauren Cousineau, and Kali Awiszus.

Team Underwater Research came in third place with members Robert Barbato, Lindsay Syma, Riley Arlt, Jake Schiller, and Noah Fischer.

The competition’s “Duct Take Award” went to team Green Thunder, with members Samantha Jobin, John McNeal, Trisha Daoust, Mason Barch, and Miya Zbytowski.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.