The first-ever Port PiraTech robotics team that formed at the Port Washington High School this year kicks off the awaited competition on Thursday.
The group of more than 30 students held meetings from 6 to 10 p.m. four nights a week, and from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturdays starting January through mid-February to build the robot for the competition that lasts all weekend.
While the program seems science based, volunteer Jim Valasek said it touches more interests than meets the eye.
"(The students) are almost running a little business," said Valasek, who is also a senior project manager at Rockwell Automation. Students are divided into teams such as designing, building, marketing as well as fundraising as part of the project, he said.
The robots cannot cost more than $4,000, FIRST Robotics Valasek said, with no individual component costing more than $400. The Port PiraTech team has raised $3,000 through fundraising efforts.
A competition schedule can be found on the group's website, in large part run by the media-sector of the Port PiraTech group.
The regional competition takes place Thursday through Saturday at the U.S. Cellular area, 400 W. Kilbourn Ave., Milwaukee.