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SlicerTech building name in robotics

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LPHS SlicerTech team is looking to make its mark on the popular and quickly growing world of robotics. 

Led by LPHS staff members Miles Fettinger and Todd Hutson, SlicerTech is a team of students who build robots to compete against other schools. Recruiting and fundraising started in August, and the team starts competing in March. 

“SlicerTech is a team just like the football team. We are a group of students trying to win for La Porte High School, just with robots. The football team has a defense, offense, and individual positions like the quarterback. Our First Robotics Competition team or FRC has fabricators, software, electrical, safety, digital design, art, business, and marketing, and our driver is like the quarterback,” Fettinger said. 

SlicerTech is a self-funded group, so they have to pay for everything, which is quite costly. There is a business group to strategize on finding sponsors and advertise the advantages to sponsor the team. They also have designed signs advertising the club. 

There are also many grants and several donations from local businesses that have been awarded to SlicerTech.

Howmet Aerospace gave the team a generous one-time $20,000 grant for their registration fees. The Unity Foundation has presented them with $3,333.33. Valparaiso University, Ben Konowitz from La Porte Seamless Gutter, and Tony Swedersky at E-PAK have all made commitments to support SlicerTech. The First Robotics team gave SlicerTech two grants. The first grant was the Rookie grant, which was $6,000.

The second grant from First Robotics was not exactly money but a one-day quick build that is valued at $3,000. SlicerTech went to the La Porte County Public Library Exchange building and collaborated with the New Prairie robotics team. New Prairie helped La Porte make a robot in one day, giving SlicerTech the opportunity to understand the basics of how to start the robot in January.  

“Registration fees alone are $10,000 or more per year. Semi-trucks filled with technology and equipment have to be shipped to every event and set up for a two-day event,” Fettinger said.

Every competition season, teams are assigned three tasks that their robot has to complete. Last year, the tasks were to pick up a ball off the ground, autonomously drive to a shooting area, and shoot a ball into one of three holes each worth more points based on difficulty. Then the robot had to climb monkey bars. They have three minutes to complete the tasks, and there are other teams competing against them. Every year there is a new set of actions the robot has to do, requiring the team to build a new robot every year. They have sixty days to design, fabricate, and program the robot.  

The season officially starts in January, and students will receive a robot kit and the mission.

Many Slicer students are wildly talented in STEM fields. The robotics team gives students opportunities to show off their skills. 

“I joined this club as a way of returning to the trades and gaining experience in both electrical work and physical building. I took several incredible classes at the school I moved from, classes such as electronics, metalworking, welding, and woodworking. I enjoy this club and my leadership position in it because it allows me to show my own capabilities and understand how to help others hone theirs,” Alden Pinkston, senior, said. 

Students who want to join SlicerTech can attend the meetings on Tuesdays from 3-5 in the library. Slicers with questions can see Fettinger in the library or Mr. Hutson in F.12

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