Megahurtz Robotics get Ready to Move Into new Building
by Rebecka Hoyt, Editor & Photographer
The Buchanan Megahurtz FIRST Team 5056 has a new building! It is in the second suite of the Buchanan Scarecrow Charities building as the Fisher Rahiser Group donated the structure and they have a lease agreement with Buchanan Scarecrow Charities located at 606 Carrol Street in Buchanan. This new building will help them interact, learn and build their robot(s) in what would be a traditional workspace environment. Walls, doors, windows and rooms are up. They just need to be finished and are looking for volunteers who can lend a helping hand with these projects or also volunteer with the team.
On their Lake Michigan STEAMWORKS website, you can see their workshop floor plan which is a 40’ x 60’ space. “The inside was completely up to students and mentors on how they wanted to design it. We wanted some quiet areas where things can be worked on without super overwhelming noise from a shop with a room dedicated to electronics and 3D printing, and another one dedicated to our programmers in CAD. A classroom that can fit up to 20 people will have magnetic white boards that will be on every wall to have videos & collaborate ideas with each other and make life-size drawings and windows will be above them, and will be used for planning, designing with no space being wasted. During their season they will be working for 3 hours, 5 days a week and all day on Saturdays with some parents and students,” states Philip Place, Lead Mentor of MegaHurtz Robotics. Other rooms like a kitchen, utility room, and restroom are also in as well, but not completed yet.
And they have added the “A” into STEM to be used for arts. Megahurtz supports the theater/drama with the technology side and that is what differentiates Megahurtz from STEAMWORKS. “The primary goal of STEAMWORKS is to explore “steam” through robotics and that’s K-12,” made known by Philip Place. It will start in the fall this year with a lego team through FIRST. There will also be competition with STEAMWORKS. They will be partnering with Buchanan District Library this summer as well. So stay tuned for more information.
They have been dreaming of this for the last nine years, but they didn’t have the adequate space. They are very appreciative of the high school space, but this building will fit their needs better. When the Fisher Raiser group heard about this, it started to get the ball rolling. “We are grateful for all of this, but it’s not a complete handout either, and we wanted to make sure that in our agreement with them that we hold our own and step up our game and we formed the nonprofit organization Lake Michigan STEAMWORKS a 501c3 will run and maintain this facility. And do the outreach and start other programs. Not every kid fits in sports, but if you put robots in there, then I’m in. Battlebots is not what we are doing. Our goal isn’t to compete and to trash our opponent, it’s to learn,” states lead mentor Philip Place. “FIRST (For Inspiration in Science and Technology) represents why our kids are in FIRST. It’s competition, but it’s not a competition like in a football or a basketball game. Your teammate could be an opponent in the next round, so you are looking out for everybody.” states mentor Jeremy Layne.
“Disney+ has a documentary on the first robotics organization called “More Than Robots,”” suggested by parent Camila Layne. They have had influence from other automation/engineering companies on what their space should be like. “We have to come up with funds or sponsors to sponsor a room to help us finish what needs to be done in here. The bathroom is the first that has to be done, then the electronics, carpet the main room, tables, chairs, epoxy the floors and paint,” says Jeremy Layne.
“The cost for us is $20,000 a season. All of that comes from donations, none of it comes from the school. Add in Covid and that takes away from fundraising as well. We are hoping to do a Pancake Breakfast that the kids put on and would like to have it in the new building so the public can come and see our space, see what we do or even go to a competition,” stated Philip Place. Everything for that is on hold, but when they get the permits then it will happen. They also have a garage door for large items to load in twice a year and park the trailer inside as well.
Being a part of FIRST (For Inspiration in Science and Technology) is the most inclusive. All kids of different abilities have grown from being in this program. Here’s the game, now you have to design the robot. It’s all hands on. Then you go to practice and competitions. Everything here will be on wheels, and it’s carpeted just as in the competitions. You will be able to roll out carpet and leave it out compared to before. With 2-3 seasons on a roll of carpet, robot wheels can tear it up.
Kids learn so much in all areas that go into this: safety, business, cheer portions, do videos for the community outreach part of it. Philip, Camila and Jeremy state, “We need mentors to volunteer for all of those things to teach them these things, the biggest misconception is building robots. We need business people, website builders, and safety. We have to engineer game pieces every year, so general contracting work. There is probably not a single thing out there that doesn’t touch on some of what we do already. We also have to write press releases to inform the public of what we are doing. Kids come and find their niche and so can you!”
“Other kids have never touched a tool, so they teach them to use hand/power tools and all that stuff,” says Jeremy Layne.
They would like to be in their new building in January of 2023 which is the start of the next season, and also this summer to get their fundraising going. You will be able to see them put on drone demonstrations at the Buchanan School Farm Plow Day on Saturday, April 23. As well as another demonstration at the Buchanan District Library in June. They do have a GO FUND ME account, but it sees very little activity. You can also donate funds, which will go towards an item that you pick on their website as well.
If this article gives you some interest, I suggest that you look into seeing how you can help whether it’s volunteering your time or sponsoring them.
About MegaHurtz Robotics: Formed in 2013, the Tech Club helped to raise interest in starting a robotics team at Buchanan High School. The cost of starting a team is substantial, however the State of Michigan had made available a huge grant to new teams. This grant combined with a FIRST Rookie grant provided us with the funds needed to get off the ground. While we didn’t make it to the state championships our first year, we did win the Rookie Inspiration Award highlighting our team as an inspiration to other start-up teams what is possible with a dedicated group of students and mentors.