We received word yesterday minutes after placing are 2020 bot SkipJack Betty (along with our tools and supplies) on a flight to the mainland that our District Competition in Escanaba is indefinitely postponed due to concerns about COVID-19.  It is unclear to us whether our team will be able to attend an event there or some other event at a later date.  For now, we continue to prepare for our second scheduled event in Alpena on March 27-28, but that event is officially postponed as well.  We  looking at ways to continue our efforts in the face of this very unusual development.  After all, when a good robotics team is presented with a problem, we look for a way to solve it.  We adapt and carry on.
Our 2020 bot and team are ready to compete after many weeks of work, including an especially busy last several weeks of build sessions where we often worked into the wee hours of the morning.  Our machine, named Skipjack Betty (for some of our supporters who passed away after build season began), includes a novel game piece mechanism, an R2D2 like arm for manipulating the control panel in this year’s game and a lift mechanism incorporating an on board tube bending system.  We will look for an opportunity to display its unique capabilities in some demonstrations at our school.

We thank our parents and mentors for all of their hard work getting the team ready to compete.  Some have worked extraordinary hours including Adam Anderson, former team member Kai Drost, Josh Garret, KaiLonnie Dunsmore, Sheri Richards and Kevin and Theresa McDonough.  Thanks also go to Robert’s John Service and McDonough Construction who let us use their shop facilities and to our 5th & 6th grade teacher Debbie Robert who delivered one of our build session dinners.

We are very grateful to our sponsors for supporting our efforts so far this season.  Because teaching our team members the skills involved in effective capital formation (in our case fundraising)–planning, focus on the value proposition, communicating and interacting with potential customers (donors), tracking results and following up–are a core part of our mission (and because we must complete our fundraising efforts to be ready for the 2021 season), our fund raising efforts will continue even as we standby to see what happens with the rest of our 2020 competition schedule.  Team members are already looking at organizing early summer competitions among Northwest Michigan and UP teams or, in our, case Northern Lights League members with robotics teams.  Please know that we will continue to work hard to deliver value from your investment in our efforts and that we plan to carry on with our other program features (including our very popular Summer Robotics Camp, Robot Movie Festival, Independence Day Parade participation, community service and outreach).  But, given how hard we’ve all been working, we may take a few days to recover with some good snowbank time.  If we can find one.