Renovated trailer donated to RESA for local robotics teams

Posted on July 12, 2018

The explosive growth in student robotics clubs across the Blue Water Area has led two community agencies to help them take their success on the road.

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County has renovated and repurposed a trailer on behalf of the Blue Water Area Robotics Alliance. The foundation, in turn, has donated the trailer to St. Clair County RESA, which will make it available to local robotics teams for their robot transportation needs, said Mike Cansfield, foundation board chair.

“A lot of teams have transportation issues, because the robots can be big and weigh hundreds of pounds. The trailer will help by giving them secure, covered storage,” Cansfield said.

RESA Superintendent Kevin Miller said RESA is thrilled to be a partner in this effort. “We want to encourage more young people to get into engineering, and robotics is a direct line into engineering-related fields,” Miller said.

The Community Foundation used some $2,000 from a donor advised fund to renovate the trailer. Cansfield said it is not financially feasible for the foundation to give each school team its own trailer, but each team can schedule this one on a first-come, first-served basis.

Ann Austin, an employee of Port Huron Schools, is the manager of the district’s high school robotics team, the Mecanum Knights. She said the trailer will definitely be used. “The teams all work together. By working together, we are getting the word out better and we’re all improving our abilities,” she said.

“Everyone wants to see local kids do well and be successful.”

Cansfield said, “We see (robotics) as a pathway to skilled trades, and allowing more hands-on participation for students interested in any sort of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program. Skilled trades is a vital part of our focus on young adult success.”

He added that the Community Foundation and the county Economic Development Alliance earlier this year created a fund to support local robotics teams. In its first year, that fund donated $10,000 to local teams for competition and other needs.

“We really want to bring that spotlight to robotics in general, and show people how they can support the pipeline to the future,” Cansfield said.

Miller noted that the interest locally in robotics mirrors that statewide. “There are more student robotics teams in Michigan than there are in California and New York combined,” Miller said.
He added that through the awareness that the foundation brought to supporting robotics with in-kind items, RESA is also making 40 laptops available to the local robotics teams.


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