Lake Placid school robotics team seeks sponsors

ROBOlympics robot Albert II sits before the Lake Placid School Board of Education Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid’s Board of Education had just completed a budget hearing on Tuesday when a robot rolled in the door.

The robot was 3 to 4 feet tall — a carefully crafted cluster of wires, pulleys and belts all contained within a sparse metal framework atop a motorized platform. It was loud, and lit with a string of color-changing lights.

Behind the robot came members and advisors of the Lake Placid Robotics Club.

Jesse Izzo — a club member, a high school senior and a baseball player for the Lake Placid Blue Bombers — told the Board of Education he’s working on building a new business model to help sustain the club.

“We’re working on getting better funding for the events, and for building the robot,” he said.

Tenth-grader Pat Manning explains to the Lake Placid Board of Education Tuesday the mechanics of making the team’s robot, Albert II, move. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

The plan, which will require luring local sponsors to contribute money or parts to the cause, is part of his senior project. He’s hoping to raise a total of $50,000, which would let the team purchase new equipment and perhaps enable the team to find a new space to build their robot each year, according to Izzo.

“There’s a lot of options (that money) could open up,” he said.

The ROBOlympians team from Lake Placid is fresh off a second-place win at the New York Tech Valley regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a regional qualifying event held at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy in March.

The team that builds the best robot and wins first place in the qualifier gets a shot at the championship title in the FIRST national competition.

For the second year in a row, the ROBOlympians built a robot to compete — dubbed “Albert II,” after a rhesus monkey that became the first primate to enter space in 1949 — and went head-to-head with students from New York City and as far away as Brazil.

Pat Manning, left, and ROBOlympics advisor Olaf Carlson, right, troubleshoot after Albert II fails to move forward. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

They got second place, narrowly missing the opportunity by a few points.

“We’re glad we made it as far as we did,” said 10th-grader Pat Manning.

Last year, the team was ranked 23rd out of 35 teams and was awarded Highest Rookie Seed. This year, the ROBOlympians were ranked 19th and named Regional Finalists.

Izzo thinks now is a good time to capitalize on that progress “so we can further our advancement into first.”

Being able to compete in these competitions takes time — and money. It costs $5,000 to enter, and each team is allowed to spend an additional $4,000 on extra parts to build out their robot.

“As an up-and-coming team, we didn’t have a lot of funding these last few years,” Izzo said. “The team that won our regional competition was sponsored by Google.

“My plan is to start slow, get some smaller sponsors, and hopefully the person after me grows the sponsorships to their full potential.”

High Peaks Builders has already signed on to help, he said.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the team or contributing parts can contact Izzo at jesse.izzo42@gmail.com or club advisor Brian LaVallee at blavallee@lakeplacidcsd.org.