BUILDING KIDS! BUILDING COMMUNITY! BUILDING A LEGACy!
A PARTNERSHIP WITH WEST OTTAWA PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND JR AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGIES
How West Ottawa Met FIRST Robotics
West Ottawa High School FIRST Robotics Team #141, the builders of the WOBOT, entered into its initial FIRST competition in 1995. Since that time, our team has grown to its largest roster ever! Students benefit from every aspect of our program, and we are proud to contribute to the FIRST family.
A long time ago, or so the story goes, our principal was visited by one Dean Kamen, walking the halls of West Ottawa High School, back in the early 1990s. He had a new program called US FIRST and he was pounding the pavement, visiting schools, to get new teams started in his then-young FIRST Robotics Competition. Gary Lucas, our principal at the time, told me of the day that Dean sat in his office and convinced him to enter a team the next year. And so it began for our school….
For three years, Mike Mamo, an industrial arts teacher (now retired) who specialized in teaching metals, CAD and 3-D World, led the robotics team in its first three seasons, 1995-1997. In 1995, we won the Most Photogenic Award. The 1996 season saw WO take eighth place in its nationals competition. The team included Dave Huizenga, Dan Swihart, Joel Brown, Dan Rohn, Travuis Smith, Craig Vyncke, Eric Hall, Tara Larose, Kelli Hassevort, Ly Yam, Justin Telman, Cy Kim, Adam Kimple, Mike McClarty, Osceola Walters, John Seamans, John Lambers, Trieu Do, Kenny Hill, Matt Baker, Ben Kroneneyer, Keith Carlson. Prince employees were Ken Hill, Rusty Lhamon, Joe Thompson, Brian Honeck, Steve Voll, Mark Meeuwsen, Brian Dexter and Mr. Borlik, and Mr. Mike Mamo from West Ottawa High School.
1997 brought more success to the “Panther” robot, as it was called in those early days. We placed 12th at nationals. Our students were Jim Seabright, Treiu Do, Kara Main, Animbal Adames, Kenny Hill, Ly H. Yam, Daron McKinley, Ken Overway, Charlie Kittridge, Cory VanderYacht, Kelly Hassevoort, Jason Flipiak, Justin Telman, Steve Brierty, Dena Ismael, Matt Baker, Kurt Staat, Bobby Dars, Sean Bearns, Dan Rohn, David Huizenga, Brad Burke, Dan Swihart, Eric Hall, Adam Kimple, Mike McClarty, John Seamans. Members from Prince Corporation were Mark Meeuwsen, Tracy Dowker, Joe Thompson, Alan Hughes, Brad Yound, Bob Bonczyk, Brian Honeck, Jeff Telman, Rusty Lhamon, Lisa Horton, Jennifer Ritesma, and Dave Busch. Mr. Mamo continued to lead the team.
The 1998 season was under the leadership of retired WO teacher Terry VanderYacht. During this year, Mr. V remembers traveling to DEKA where Dean Kamen demonstrated his new wheelchair and the Segway was still under development. Team support now transferred to Johnson Controls, as they bought out Prince. Team members included Alber Caluag, Jason Filipiak, Curt Staat, John Seamans, Cy Kim, Bobbie Dans, Adam Kimple, Julian Knoll, William Beker, Joe Taylor, Stephanie Rrbin, Phillip Corning, Dean Ismail, Darrin McKinley, Jessika Hill, Matt Baker.
The 1999 season brought us to nationals, where we finished 43rd out of 217 teams. They competed in regionals at Chicago and Detroit.
The 2000 season brought another year under Mr. VanderYacht’s direction. It was quite a year, but we have no record of it. ☺
Principal Gary Lucas
Our Family Motto...
"Once a Wobot,
Always a Wobot!'
In 2003 the Wobot mascot was created by one of our students, Dana Staples.
In 2004 the Wobot was revised and has been use throughout the years.
2001 - 2005
In 2001, direction of the team fell to Norma Lamotte, a math teacher at West Ottawa. We placed 2nd in the Newton Division at Nationals, and our team was very excited to be a part of all the fun. Still sponsored by Johnson Controls, the team was well financed and well mentored! At this time, the students were Brett Dalman, Chris Siler, Dan Minnich, Sheena Corning, Christian Amos, Ben Barefield, Mike Olson, Stephen Minnich, John Angeli, Sean Tietze, Evan Sharp, Joe Filcik, Louwrens Wildschut. Mentors this year were Jonathan Pratt, Paul Amos, Georgia Holstine, Joe Thompson, Dave Gunnett, Bob Bonczyk, Jason VanEvery, marcy VanEvery, Jan-Harm Wolters.
2002 brought us a great team and wonderful mentors and motivated students, but also a stubbornly still robot. As we tried a crab drive for the first time, we encountered one thread-stripping, gear-stripping, unmovable sad robot. However, despite this the team learned a lot. And there are plenty of funny stories to tell about our robot that NEVER moved and finally decided to take off like crazy in the parking lot of one of our competitions, where it dramatically ran into a brand-new Lexus! Team members, while an incomplete list, included Mike Olson, Ben Barefield, Kathy Nienhuis, Amanda Siler, Chris Siler, and Stephen Minnich.
2003 brought us a busy schedule as we headed to the Buckeye Regional, where we won the Johnson & Johnson Sportsmanship Award. Later, we took the Leadership in Controls award at the West Michigan Regional. Our robot was a serious tote stacker, and we had a great build season that year. We could actually stack up to 12 totes with our robot, though the ferocity of the competition that year rarely allowed us to do so!
2004 was a record-setting season for our team in many ways. We had our most intensive travel itinerary ever, going to four regionals and nationals! We went to the Buckeye again (love that venue!), where we were named the winner of the Engineering Inspiration Award. We also went to the Great Lakes Regional in Ypsilanti, visiting our neighbors across the state. Then we traveled to the Chesapeake Regional and won the Imagery award. While we were there, our bus driver took us on a personalized, whirlwind tour of the capitol, and we saw all the major sites in an evening. Who argues with a bus driver who says, “Ok, quick! Get out. You’ve got 15 minutes to see the Lincoln Memorial.” And away we went! We also got to tour Annapolis, which was a big thrill. After these successful regional events, we went on to the West Michigan Regional, where we won the Regional Champion Award (for the first time ever!) and the Regional Chairman’s Award. We went back to our school board so proud of our accomplishments! Not only was our team busy that year with robotics, but we also helped our community by planting dune grass to stop erosion on Mt. Pissgah on Lake Michigan’s shoreline and we worked to establish a county park (Hemlock Park). Then we all put together a float for the internationally famous Tulip Time Parade! What a year!
2005 saw major changes for our team! After 10 years as our sole sponsor, JCI had to stop supporting our team financially. Just when we thought all was lost and we would never compete again, a local visionary company named JR Automation Technologies LLC came to our rescue! They paid for our team’s entry fee and we were in business again. We had a new home in JR’s spare spaces, and we were working with a new engineering team, alongside all of our previous mentors, who stayed with the team despite the loss of money. We had a great time with Triple Play, and we built a robot that performed well. We attended the Buckeye, and again won the Engineering Inspiration Award. We attended the Great Lakes Regional and won the KPC&B Entrepreneurship award at the West Michigan Regional. This was mainly to recognize our team for its fighting spirit to go out and pound the pavement looking for support in November! We are proud of all our sponsors and appreciate all the opportunities that they give us.
2006 - 2010
2006 was a great year for playing Aim High! We attended the Buckeye, the Midwest, and the West Michigan Regionals. We were named the Johnson & Johnson Sportsmanship Award at the Buckeye and we were also a Regional Finalist! What a great drive train we had, and we had the BIGFOOT. We even had the ability to push Vaughn across the carpet. Our gigantic ball dump mechanism was just superb! After that, we went to the Midwest, where we were the Motorola Quality Award winner and a Regional Finalist. At the West Michigan Regional, we won the Entrepreneurship Award again. Our robot and team were published in the FIRST Robotics: Aim High: Behind the Design, by Vince Wilczynski. It was so very exciting to be chosen for this honor!
2007 was another great FIRST year for Rack-n-Roll! This was a fun game, and it was also very exciting right to the last second! We traveled to Purdue for the first time, attending the Boilermaker Regional, where we were honored with a Judges’ Award for having a student-run team and an all-student drive team. We had student coaches out on the field ever since about 2003, and we have maintained our coach’s admonition that the team is about the students, not the adults! Students have held the lead and the power on our drive teams. They go out and do their own strategizing, usually with no adult mentor in sight! Our team prides itself on having students take responsibility for the direction of our play on the field. During that same year, we attended the West Michigan Regional, where we won the Judges’ Award there, too!
2008 was another great year for the FIRST Robotics WOBOT team! Overdrive put us in a mood where we needed some speed! During our test phases, we would stand at the edge of the arena set up by Team 74, and we actually felt a breeze as the WOBOT went by! Wow! It was an exciting, fast-paced game. We had a great set of drive teams that year, and we sure had some serious success! We attended the Wisconsin Regional, where we won the Motorola Quality Award. At the West Michigan Regional, we won the Engineering Inspiration Award and were named a Regional Finalist. We went on to be a finalist in the Newton Division at Nationals, where we were in an alliance with the Mighty Monkey Wrenches from 2016 and 1574, MisCar, from Israel. We had a great season and another remarkable year in the FIRST Robotics Competition.
2009 brought us some Lunacy! What a game….with a reduced-friction flooring and slippery wheels, we were in for a great time. We attended the Wisconsin Regional and the West Michigan District, as our state piloted a district model. We won the Delphi “Driving Tomorrow’s Technology” award and the Entrepreneurship award as well. We attended the championship in Atlanta and had a great time!
2010 was a great year to play Breakaway! We were excited to build a robot with a kicker and we experimented with some fabulous mechanical improvements as we debuted our full-out crab drive machine. Each wheel was independently steered and driven. We could achieve very fast speed and were able to spin well. We paired this with some amazing programming from our students and were able to allow the robot to rotate and translate linearly simultaneously. This was done by the resolution of both component vectors. We had an anti-wind-up algorithm to prevent the harnesses on the wheels from wrapping themselves into a knot. We attended Traverse City District, West Michigan District, Michigan State Championship and the World Championship. We won the Innovation in Controls award in TC, and we won the coveted Engineering Inspiration Award at West Michigan, the State Championship, and the Championship! That win allows us to pre-qualify for nationals, so it’s “Meet Me in St. Louis” time for the WOBOTS!
Our 2012 trip to the DC Regional resulted in Finalist Medals and we are displaying them proudly in front of the White House. Our students competed in the FIRST event and then toured the DC area. We got to see the White House, the US Capitol, the chambers of the senate and house, the many Smithsonian museums, including Air & Space, the Library of Congress, as well as a trip out to Udvar-Hazy Center, where we saw depicted the history of flight from beginning planes to the space shuttle. We stopped at many monuments and, while in DC, met with Representative Bill Huizenga and with Senator Carl Levin. Our trip, loaded with learning, was also loaded with fun!
We are sorry for the inconvenience but 2011 to the present is in the works. Please check back later to find out about our current history.