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Alpena Robotics Team Gears Up For Season

Alpena’s Robotics Team, Team 5505, is hard at work preparing for their 2024 season. While the focus is on robotics, many may be surprised to find the team is full of students with a variety of specialties. Jack Caplis, of the mechanical team, elaborates, discussing each students’ roles, “There’s people on the business team, people on the media team, and then people on the mechanical and design team, and we all work together to create a robot, and then we go to competitions and compete against other teams and other robots to try to win.” This allows students with different interests to get involved and help with the team’s operation.

The Wildcats have a rich history of success in the field, and this year is looking to be another great one thanks to both the students and mentors of the program. This year’s robot took weeks of design before even beginning the building process. Austin Reinhardt, a CAD designer on the mechanical team recalls the process, “And then we finally got out on the mechanical side of things where we can actually build the robot and building it has been a lot of fun and we’ve finally started to see it come to light pretty soon here.” From there, the business, media, and fundraising teams all work to make the plans come to life as awareness and sponsorship is needed to fund the creations. William Meincinger of the media and programming team shares more about their duties, “So we have some of the business team go around and talk to the business and get our name out there as well. And with media, we work with TikToks and different types of video to promote our team.”

Once the robot is finished, the team will compete alongside other schools in “Alliances” to win competitions, with their individual performance also being scored upon. The students adapt quickly to being on the same teams as other schools and utilize quick thinking and communication skills to reach success.

The team has qualified for the state tournament since every year since their inception (except the 2020 season effected by the COVID-19 Pandemic), and even FIRST World Championships. Having these experiences has helped many students and alums determine their future career paths. Thurston Imhoff of the media, business, and building team has been inspired to pursue photography, “This started to get me into photography which I’ve focused on and have started taking pictures for seniors during the games and have sort of gotten me into the photography zone.” Another teammate expressed gratitude for being able to see just how much hard work it can take to accomplish a goal.

This team of hard workers spends multiple hours per day after school perfecting their craft and preparing for the upcoming season, none of which would be possible without the community’s support. Dedicated mentors spend countless hours assisting the group and community sponsorship funds robot building supplies and travel costs. Unfortunately, on previous occasions, the group has been unable to travel to the World Championship due to lack of funding. The group estimates that travel for that event can cost around $50,000, a number that can be difficult to reach if they wait until qualification to begin funding.

While the team is just gearing up for the year, they are eager to begin funding their way to the World Championships. If you are interested in supporting Team 5505, they are accepting donations to fund their season through the school website, linked here, or checks directed to Team 5505 can be sent directly to the school. Fundraising and Business team member, Audrey Decker, thanks the public for their assistance, “Really any sort of support again is greatly appreciated so we just thank our community for all they’ve done for us.”

Be sure to keep updated with Team 5505 throughout their season as they make their journey to the FIRST World Championship.