Manual Academy Robo-Rams In Full Swing

The Manual Academy Robo-Rams began with one team during 2012-2013 school season. The first season’s coaches, Michael Young and Hosea Washington, studied the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics Program ( They later added Manual Robo-Rams coach Larry Smith who coaches Team #9788 along with Dr. Kervin Evans and Michael Young Team #8648. CAD Mechanical Drawings Coach is Meiosha Zobac. Programming coaches are Marcus Washington and Ronald Gayles. The FTC competition is designed for students who want to compete head to head using a sports model. Teams design, build, and program their robots to compete in an Alliance against other teams. Awards are given for the competition, as well as community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments. Students get to make robots in a real-life engineering process. They develop strategic problem-solving, organizational, and team-building skills.

FTC competition

• FTC tournaments are organized in 15 countries for up to 7000 teams.

• Teams: 6 to 10 students per team, of pre-university level plus a mentor. All their steps and design choices are recorded in the engineering notebook.

• Each year fresh challenges on a field of 3m x 3m with a 0.45m (18 inches) wide x 0.45m (18 inches) long x 0.45m (18 inches) height robot.

• FTC Robotics Kit contains motors, sensors, metal gears, game controllers, wireless communications, all the building materials you need and professional grade software.

In the first year of formation, the Manual Robo-Rams did not compete but studied the medium size robotic competition program. The match begins with an 18 cubic inch robot, but after the match has started it can become as big as you’d like (by extending an arm for example). After the first season of competition in 2014-2015, the Manual Robo-Rams expanded into two robotic teams competing every year.

The Manual Robo-Rams team began when Hosea Washington was approached by the Caterpillar African American Network (CAAN) to begin a competitive robotics program at Peoria Manual Academy. The first Peoria Manual Robo-Rams team began with 10 students at Peoria Manual Academy. Today they have students from Peoria Manual Academy, Limestone High School, Quest Academy, Washington Gifted, Calvin Coolidge Middle School, and two students who are currently home schooled. This year Peoria Manual Robo-Rams team members are: LaMarcus Evans, Jewel Young, Phillip Gestrine, Isiaha Farmer, Julius Kissee, Xavier Muhmad, Noel Thomas, Eric Thomas Jr, Ryann St. Louis, Deontray Clayborn, and Keontray Clayborn.

Both teams meet throughout the school year from September to March every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at the Nannie M. Johnson Community Center (formerly known as the Kingman School building) 3129 NE Madison Avenue Peoria, IL 61603. Currently the Peoria Manual Robo-Rams are sponsored by Caterpillar Inc, Peoria School District 150 Schools, and Nannie M. Johnson Community Center.

Former Manual Robo-Rams team members are attending the following colleges and universities:

Jamanni Gibson – Junior at University of Illinois, Chicago, Majoring in Politics and Community Relations.

Taylor Yelder – Junior at North Carolina A&T University Majoring in Computer/ Software Engineering

Shane Jackson – Junior at Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Carbondale, IL, Majoring in Accounting/Business

Javon Lee – Alumni of Peoria Manual Robo-Rams and a graduating candidate in Computer Software Engineering from North Carolina Agriculture & Technical State University. He will be Master of Ceremonies at the Peoria Manual Robo-Rams First Tech Challenge Qualifier on February 10, 2018.

Since the conception, successful achievements for Peoria Manual Robo-Rams include the following:

December 5, 2015 – Peoria Manual Academy FTC Qualifier, Manual Robo-Rams Team #9788, Finalist Alliance 1st Pick & Highest Ranked Rookie out of 24 Teams.

February 6, 2016 – Decatur, IL Hope Academy Qualifier, Manual Robo-Rams Teams #8648 & #9788, Winning Alliance 1st & 2nd Selected. Congratulations on Advancement to Illinois State Championship.

February 27, 2016 – Out of 36 Teams, Team #9788 obtained 7th Seed and Team #8648 obtained 9th Seed in Illinois State Championship.

This year, both teams are preparing to compete in a Qualifier that they are hosting at Peoria Manual Academy Main Gymnasium on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 10 AM. This year’s game “FIRST Relic Recovery” is played on a 12 ft. x 12 ft. square field with approximately 1 ft. high walls and a soft foam mat floor. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by scoring Glyphs into the Crypotoboxes and completing rows, columns, and ciphers, transferring Relics to the Recovery Zone, retrieving Jewels, parking on Balancing Stones, and navigating to specific parts of the Playing Field.

Also at the Peoria Manual Academy Robo-Rams Qualifier, Saturday, February 10, 2018, they will introduce special guest speaker Dr. Luther Beegle, Deputy Division Manager of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. He will be speaking to all students, parents, and robotics fanatics about “Robots Utilization on the Exploration of Mars.” Dr. Beegle’s NASA Division was responsible for landing the rover on the Gale Crater in Mars on August 5, 2012. It is designed to search for and assess past or present habitable environments, i.e., those capable of supporting microbial life.

Dr. Beegle will speak at the Peoria Manual Academy Auditorium at 7 PM on Friday and make a special appearance at the Peoria Manual Academy Qualifier on Saturday morning at 9:30 AM. However, parents, instructors, and students grades 5th thru 12th are encouraged to come and hear Dr. Beegle speak on Friday, February 9, 2018 at 7 PM at the Peoria Manual Academy Auditorium.

Peoria Manual Academy Coaches encourage parents and community leaders to get students involved with robots because they will become our future for employment demands and the world economy. Also similar to sports, there is MONEY FOR COLLEGE. FIRST participation has nearly 200 scholarship providers and over $22 million in potential scholarship opportunities. Because this program has an interest in other competitions and technology, it also accepts donations from the community. If you are interested in donating you may contact Chama St. Louis via email at or donate online at