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County robotics team pursuing regional title

A Morgan County Mech Tech robotics team based at Brewer High School plans to enter its first robot, “Mr. T”, in a FIRST (For inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) regional competition in Duluth, Ga. Mar. 15-18.

The team was organized earlier this school year after a $50,000 state grant was acquired by State Senator Arthur Orr to get the program started. Since then J.C. Penny Co. has signed on as a sponsor. All five county high schools were invited to select one or more sophomores, juniors or seniors to serve on the team. At present, the team consists of members from Brewer, Danville and Priceville,

The robot, whose mission is to demonstrate its accuracy shooing basketballs at five stationary goals, has been under assembly since early January. Team members meet after school and on Saturdays to work on the robotics project. They spend four hours in class and a workshop Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and eight hours on Saturday.

Our team is highly motivated and with a rare exception or two has been in place and eager to work ever session we’ve had,” said team sponsor Tim Sharp. “This is great experience for any student who is looking at pursuing an engineering or some other technical career.

Team members conducted a mock exercise Friday night to practice the oral presentations they will be required to give in the competition and demonstrate “Mr. T’s” performance. Among those participating in the exercise was Morgan County Schools Superintendent Bill Hopkins. He served as an evaluator, asking team members questions about the robot and allowing them to respond with answers.

“This is definitely a step up for students who will be entering technical career fields after high school,” said Vicki Smith, director of secondary education for the Morgan County School District. “This being our first year with a robotics program, team members, faculty and mentors have done a wonderful job.”

Members of the robotics team are: Elizabeth Childers, Matthew Mercaldi, team manager, Julie Mercaldi, Ricky Stewart, Joey Wolfe, Edgar Taylor, Thomas Strange. Kyle Brakke. Bradley Bowen, Justin Kramer, Kelley Tidwell, Abigail Smith, Elaine Fagerman, Josh Childers and Gage Cross.

Robotics team members attend a two-hour robotics class and a two-hour drafting class.

Mentors are Garry Mercaldi, Xan Naylor, Lauren Fagerman, Suzanne Brakke, Julie Mercaldi, Beth Taylor, Deward Taylor, Bobby Goode, Daniel and Jim Dailey.