ONLY ON SUNRISE: Local robotics team teaches hands on experience

Eau Claire, WI (WEAU) - Ever think about building a robot? Dozens of high school students in the Chippewa Valley can say they have thanks to the Eau Claire Robotics Club.

"I've always liked building stuff,” says Christopher Stratton, one of the founders of Team Tobor.

For the last 7 years, Team Tobor has given hands on experience to Immanuel Lutheran High school students.

Stratton says, "We help students and kind of guide them toward education in the fields of science and mathematics and engineering."

One of the founders, Christopher Stratton says he’s always been a bit nerdy. But in Team Tobor's workshop it doesn't matter, because students are learning the logistics of building a robot.

"You wouldn't think you could build stuff like this. When I came up here freshman year I didn't think I'd build something that could move around with motors,” says Clay Bobek, an ILHS sophomore.

This passion involves a lot of hard work and testing, but there is a finish line. The students at Immanuel Lutheran work toward the FIRST robotics competition.

"We have our regional competition and if you win at the regional level there's a national competition,” explains Christopher.

For the competition, each team gets 6 weeks to design, build and program a robot. Then the robot plays a certain game against other teams, depending on what the competition is asking.

"It teaches them also to work with a deadline. We have 6 weeks to design, build and program our robot every year. You gotta budget that out,” says Stratton.

Clay says, "This year I drove the robot at the competition, had a lot of fun even though we didn't do so well this year.”

"It’s trying to build the kids to a level they have the confidence to do more things and greater things with their lives," says Christopher.

Christopher was one of this year's honoree's at the Legacy Luncheon. He also works with Wagner's Wheels, which helps the disabled go bowling.

He hopes to start 2-3 more robotic teams next year in the area.