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Mechatronic Maniacs seek members, prepare for the new season

WEST SPRINGFIELD The Mechatronic Maniacs, the West Springfield High School Robotics Team, is starting a new season and is looking for new members to join the organization.

Membership is open to any area high-school students interested in the program. This not only includes the manufacturing of a robot, but also business, media and spirit/outreach teams that help the entire team achieve its goal. "Open" membership will allow students to enter the world of FIRST (For the Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology). For more information on joining the Mechatronic Maniacs robotics team, please contact Mr. James Queen at or 413-214-2627.

The robotics program has also undertaken a new project. The Mechatronic Maniacs are sponsoring and mentoring a FIRST LEGO League team at the West Springfield Middle School. Jim Parks, Technology teacher at the middle school team, has agreed to advise a new team that will deal with robotics on an entry level. This program will allow students to learn the basics of robotic manufacturing and focuses on team spirit and encouragement. This year's LEGO competition is titled "Ocean Odyssey" and focuses on awareness of our ocean's large role as part of the world's ecosystem.

In the 2005 competitive season, the West Springfield High School Robotics team gained national status in the field. The team won at the Chesapeake Regional in March, which propelled them to a trip to the FIRST Championship in April.

The Cheasapeake Regional was took place at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. There, they won top honors in an alliance with Team 173 "RAGE" and Team 53 "Area 53".

West Side's own Mechatronic Maniacs then advanced to the FIRST Championship in Atlanta and competed with elite teams from around the world. The team left the competition with a respectable playoff berth.

Though the season ended in April, off-season actions have left the team with plenty to talk about. In May, the team traveled to Boston to compete in the Beantown Blitz at Northeastern University. The team excelled above the competition, and won, with the help of both new and old team members to operate the team's robot, MAX.

The team allied themselves with Team 121, the "Rhode Warriors", and Team 157, the "Aztechs".

A month later, the next competition, BattleCry 6 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute featured the Mechatronic Maniacs competing once again. The team looks forward to the final competition of the 2005 season, the Bash at the Beach in Old Lyme, Connecticut on October 8.

The off-season has also provided the team with an opportunity to honor some of its mentors and advisors. Without the devotion of these unique individuals, the team's experiences would be much less enjoyable and rewarding.

The team would like to thank Sergei and Primela Starosielski, Mark and Karen Michalski, James Queen, Allen Dunbar, Robert Szmania, Jason Demerski, Dave Schmidt, Jan Trudell, and Mike Borelli. The team would once again like to thank these individuals for making the experience so important and rewarding.

The Mechatronic Manias were even active into the summer months. Several members of the team visited the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and sat in on the presentations of several college undergrads who had worked this past summer in the Polymer Science & Engineering division on the campus. Following the presentations, the students received a tour of the Silvio O'Conte National Polymer Science Research Facility as well a tour of the campus.

The purpose of the visit gave the students a look into their future when they attend their respective colleges or universities.

~ Submitted by the West Springfield Robotics Team, the Mechatronic Maniacs.