Geneva High School’s “ROBOVIKES” Team Attacks the FIRST Robotics Program’s Rebound Rumble Challenge

The Label Printers is pleased to once again sponsor a FIRST robotics team which has been organized by Geneva High School, Geneva, Illinois. The “ROBOVIKES” have begun their fourth season of competition.

Online PR News – 27-January-2012 – – Aurora, IL, January 17, 2012 – On January 7, 2012 the 21st season of the FIRST robotics program was unveiled to an audience of 800 people in New Hampshire, and an estimated 60,000 people around the world who joined the Kickoff via live NASA-TV broadcast and webcast. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton,, frontman of The Black Eyed Peas, and a host of other celebrities who participated via video launched the 21st FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) season with the Kickoff of a new robotics game called “Rebound RumbleSM.”
Since then, 2,300 teams from 49 states and 12 countries have been feverishly working on their robots. The FIRST program is designed so that the kids have only 6 weeks to build their robot from a kit of parts (and a Microsoft Kinect), with no instructions – one of the many life lessons that are part of this “competition of the mind” – and that 6 week time frame is a significant commitment of time and effort that is clearly understood by everyone. Geneva High School’s Robovikes team (whose logo is a cross between the school’s “Vikings” mascot and Robocop as he must look on the weekends when he’s working in the shop in his basement) meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school for about four hours, and then for about six hours on Saturdays. And usually even more time as the competition nears.
Walking into their team meeting is like stepping into any team meeting of teenagers – they’re working, chatting, teasing, and laughing. There are robot “guts” all over the floor (from last year’s robot) and the energy, while not frantic, is palpable. They’re excited about what they’re building, maybe a little anxious about the upcoming competitions, but also looking forward to something that they understand, in their fourth year as a team, will be a blast. The team’s results have gotten better each successive year since their program began in 2009.

In addition to Mary Keyzer, a teacher at Geneva High School and the Robovikes coach, the team has two principal adult mentors who have volunteered countless hours working with the team – Kevin Keyzer, a ceramics engineer and Mary’s husband, and Joe Kane, who is the Prepress Department Manager at The Label Printers. Kevin’s brother is the teacher/mentor for the FIRST team at Lake Zurich High School and Kevin has long thought that the program is outstanding. Joe is a graduate of Geneva High School, who has a long term interest in robots, having built robots for both middle school and high school science projects. On this Saturday, at the team meeting being held in one of The Label Printers’ plants, there are three generations of Keyzers. In addition to Mary and Kevin, their daughters are playing a free-form game of basketball/roller derby and Kevin’s dad, John, is helping the team build the Rebound Rumble backboard. Also pitching in is team dad Steve Hensley, an electrical engineer with Sargent & Lundy in Chicago. 4th year Robovikes veteran Keane Hensley says, “the whole program is a lot of fun [but] we also learn skills from it.” Steve Hensley, a 4th year veteran parent and 2nd year veteran mentor, thinks that FIRST is exciting and fun, and “a really good program. And the [Midwest Regional] competition is just great. It’s a whole lot of real excited kids that make some basketball games seem tame.”

Anna Green, the only rookie and the only girl on the team got involved because she’s interested in becoming a chemical engineer or a particle physicist. “I thought it would be interesting – I’m still iffy about a career, and I think [FIRST] will give me a way to figure out more about what I want to do.”

Mike Miltner is working a laptop computer and a cell phone – pretty much simultaneously. He’s using the computer to try to find a carpet source for the game field (preferably someone who’ll donate it), and he’s on the phone with his Dad, Dennis Miltner, about finding a source for a certain piece of hardware. This is Mike’s 2nd year with the Robovikes and for him, “it’s still fun. I do everything but programming – design, assembly, finding suppliers…everything.”

When asked what part of the robot they’re working on, or want to work on, most of the Robovikes reply that they just do what’s needed – build the backboard, research suppliers, dismantle last year’s robot to build a prototype “Beta ‘Bot” – pretty much everything. A couple of the kids want, above all else, to be selected to be on the drive team. A couple of other kids, above all else, want nothing to do with that high profile job. Asked who on the team has basketball skills, Jack Wilbur replies, “the robot has to have the basketball skills – well, the robot’s code.”

ROBOVIKE Team Members:
Seniors: Trevor Deem, Keane Hensley, Josh Kilmer, Jake Urben, Jack Wilbur
Juniors: Derik Baer, Mitchell Baer, Will Camacho, Matt Fee, Mike Miltner, Justin Mui
Sophomores: Anna Green, Grif McDonell, Will Morrison, Mike Phillips, Quade Spellman, Ken Wendt,

The Label Printers, Aurora, IL, started in business in 1967, manufacturing simple label constructions in a 1,000 square foot space, with 1 employee, serving the local Chicago market.
Today, the company has evolved into one of the 100 largest converters in the United States. The Label Printers owns and operates two facilities in Aurora, Illinois, manufacturing and distributing labels and packaging products to thousands of customers in 25 countries around the world. The company’s packaging products are certified to ISO 9001 standards, and their quality is backed up by their 99.6% Quality Acceptance Rating.
The Label Printers is a member of NASPO (North American Security Products Organization), IACC (International Anticounterfeiting Coalitipm), CACP (Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy), TLMI (Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute) and the FTA (Flexographic Technical Association).

About Geneva High School (Community Unit School District 304)
Geneva Community High School is over 130 years old and has over 1,800 students, 150 faculty members, and offers more than 150 courses in eleven academic areas. Students may also enroll in one of thirty-seven academic courses in the Fox Valley Career Center curriculum. Advanced placement and honors courses are offered in all academic areas supported by the expansion of our Acceleration and Enrichment program.
While maintaining an outstanding tradition of excellence in education, athletic and extracurricular programs, our school provides a wide variety of community service learning experiences throughout Geneva and the Fox Valley. Our experienced administrative team and dedicated staff, along with the support of the community of Geneva, offer one of the finest educational opportunities available throughout the state of Illinois.

About the “Rebound Rumble” Game:
The Rebound RumbleSM robotics game is played between two Alliances of three teams each. Each Alliance competes by trying to score as many of the basketballs in the hoops as possible during the 2-minute and 15-second match. Balls scored in higher hoops score Alliances more points. Alliances are awarded bonus points if they are balanced on bridges at the end of the match. In matches where opponent Alliances work together to balance on the white bridge, all participating teams earn additional valuable seeding points.
Each team receives a Kit of Parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC, and a mix of automation components – but no instructions. Working with adult Mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Once these young inventors create a robot, their teams participate in competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

About the FIRST Robotics Competition:
The FIRST Robotics Competition is an annual competition that helps students discover the excitement of science, engineering, and technology and the rewards a career in STEM can bring. In 1992, the FIRST Robotics Competition began with 28 teams and a single 14-by-14-foot playing field in a New Hampshire high school gym. This season more than 2,300 teams, comprised of over 58,000 high school students (grades 9 – 12), will participate. Fifty-two regional events, 1 State Championship, 1 Regional Championship, and 14 District Competitions will lead up to the 2012 FIRST Championship in St. Louis’ Edward Jones Dome, April 25 – 28.
FIRST programs are spearheaded by more than 100,000 dedicated volunteers worldwide, most of them professional engineers and scientists who mentor the next generation of innovators. The program is supported by a network of more than 3,500 Sponsors, including corporations, educational and professional institutions, and individuals.
Participating students are eligible to apply for nearly $12 million in scholarships offered by leading universities, colleges, and companies.
"The Varsity Sport for the Mind," FRC combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to "real-world engineering" as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team.
Students get to:
Learn from professional engineers
Build and compete with a robot of their own design
Learn and use sophisticated software and hardware
Compete and cooperate in alliances and tournaments
Earn a place in the World Championship
Qualify for nearly $14.8 million in college scholarships

About FIRST:
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST ® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and nearly $15 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for 6 to 9-year-olds.
2011 marked the 20th season of the FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST has grown from 1 event to nearly 60 and from 28 teams to over 2000. Much has changed over the first twenty seasons…but our key goals remain the same; our commitment to Gracious Professionalism™, our emphasis on learning, helping one another and inspiring careers in math, science, engineering and technology.
Gracious Professionalism™ is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to