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Safety First for McEachern Robotics Club

An OSHA-led class at Kennesaw State University taught students basic procedures on how to handle machinery, chemicals and dealing with injuries in the workshop.

The 19 McEachern Robotics Team members took the first step toward competing this year by attending Kennesaw State University’s safety class and getting certified by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

Before any of the students get near building robots, the safety class was mandatory to participate. The class practiced the basic safety procedures on how to handle machinery, chemicals and dealing with injuries in the workshop.

Instructors emphasized the lack of knowledge of dangerous equipment and shed light on the huge job opportunities that use the same type of machines and tools.

In an activity to recognize the hazards in their own classroom, the students created a replica of the classroom and labeled all of the hazards inside. Needless to say, in a room with machinery, tools, a robot and a great number of students, the hazards are more than a few.

“We gotta make this class safe,” robotics sponsor Tracy Mayfield said. "That’s where the homework comes in."

Students must create a plan on how to make the class a safer one and how to fix the problem areas.

“You can either improve it, remove it or wear protection equipment to protect from it,” senior Ched Chechester said.

“In the class we learned that if we don’t feel comfortable doing something because we feel it’s unsafe, then we don’t have to," senior Alexzandria Valentine said. "We also have the right to demand training if we don’t know how to do something."

After completing the class, the team was surprised to have won a $2,500 grant from Lockheed, adding to the $6,000 from General Electric and the outstanding grant from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The money will go toward paying for parts for the robot, merchandise for the team, more tools and anything else they may need for success in this year’s competition.

The team’s got their work cut out for them: building robot #3265 for competition, completing charity hours, and working on getting grants to help put them at the top of other teams in the state.

Be sure to look out for the team at the First Robotics Kickoff at Georgia Tech on Jan. 5 and doing Hike With an Indian in April at Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park.

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