The pride and excitement of the Lansing Community College early college FIRST robotics team was close to contagious as they gave their presentation to the LCC Board of Trustees in early April. The team — which goes by the name Star Trec (“star” for LCC’s logo, “trec” for The Robotics Early College) formed in December with just six members.LCC Adjunct Professor of Mathematics Dr. Barbara Bolin, who became involved with FIRST during her years in state government and later went on to work for FIRST, quickly jumped on board as a team mentor. Starting late in the season and with a brand new team made up of high school students enrolled in the early college program, Bolin didn’t know quite what to expect. “I knew that it was going to be a challenge … but … the early college program deserved the chance to experience all that FIRST could give them,” she said. Each year FIRST robotics teams are sent kits and instructed to build a robot to compete in a game. This year’s challenge was to create a robot that played basketball. “My personal goal was simply for the team to design a reasonable looking robot that moved,” said Bolin. The team did much more than that. Growing to 12 members, the LCC Star Trec team began to win … a lot, beating teams with more members, more funding and more experience. In early spring the team qualified to compete in the world championships in St. Louis. Along with a winning robot, the team has won a number of rookieof-the-year awards. Also making Bolin proud are the three female members of the team — Jayla Carr, 16, from Sexton High School; Elena Greer, 17, from East Lansing High School and Mercedes Rayna, 17, of Haslett High School. The girls joined the Star Trec team because each are interested in the science and engineering career fields. “I’d always enjoyed putting things together,” said Elena. Just as Bolin is, the girls are thrilled with the team’s success. “I still can’t believe it,” said Mercedes. “It feels like a dream.” Along with making it to the world championship again, the girls also hope to grow the team next year. How do they plan to do that? “We brag,” said Jayla with a laugh.
Emily Caswell is the Managing Editor of CAWLM. She has a passion for fun, family, friends, shopping sprees, cold drinks and Lansing.