For David Hickman, it was a leap of faith.

   As a plant manager for Alliance Laundry Systems, Hickman collaborated with Ripon High School to create a robotics team to garner interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and careers.

   Hickman talked with Ripon High School Principal Randy Hatlen, who suggested he do some research, and pointed him toward Oshkosh’s team, Wave Robotics.

   That’s when Hickman came across the FIRST Robotics Competition, which would begin the process for its annual competition the next day — Jan. 5 — so he bought the two robotic parts kits necessary and registered as a team for the competition that day.

   The only problem was he didn’t have a team yet.

   “Well, we’ve got the parts; now we need to go find a team,” Hickman said at the time.

   He and Hatlen identified 17 students who were interested, but due to busy schedules and time constraints, that group dwindled down to a team consisting of Isaac Whitrock, Andrew Day, Cali Grant, El Heiling, Garrett Mitchell and Daniel Zimmerman.

   Heiling’s dad, Jason, and Hickman serve as mentors.

   Read the full story, including thoughts from the participating students, in the March 21, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.