The Hudson High School Robotics Team won the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Regional Robotics Competition last week at an event held at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. This win qualifies them to compete in the FIRST Robotics Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Robotics Team at Hudson High School (HHS) began about 12 years ago but this is the first time the team has won the chance to compete in the championship, which is attended by hundreds of high school teams from across the world.
“Years ago, we went to the championship in Atlanta because we were named the best new team at a regional competition,” said Jack Beyer, a technology teacher at HHS and one of the team’s advisers. “This is the first time we are advancing to the championship because we placed high enough in the regional competition to get a wild card spot.”
Each year the competition presents different challenges, however the guidelines generally remain the same. Beginning in January, teams have six weeks to build a robot that will accomplish that year’s objective. HHS’ current Robotics Team consists of 12 students, from Grades 9 to 12, including Ben Rippel, a 9th grader from Chatham High School. Half of the team is seniors.
“It’s a fun and exciting thing to do,” said Fardush Sultana, a senior at HHS. “It’s robot building and team building. We spend a lot of time together during this process. We win together and we lose together. We also get to meet other teams and make new friends. It’s a competition, but it’s a friendly competition,” she continued.
To construct a robot from scratch, students have to think, design, engineer and build. It requires students to learn how to use machines and tools and sharpen their problem-solving skills.
“We have a timeline and a budget,” said Kody Pinkowski, a senior at HHS. “There are strict guidelines on what you can and can’t do.”
The students gain experience in fields such as civil engineering, mechanical engineering and programming.
“Not only does the FIRST competition get kids involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), but it gives students access to millions in scholarships that are only available to FIRST team members,” said Beyer.
“The kids that compete in FIRST Robotics are the future because they’re the ones who will design the next bridge that will last 200 years, or the next iPhone,” said Pinkowski.
“As a mentor and a teacher, I’m trying to open doors for these kids, expose them to things they’ve never experienced, inspire them,” said Beyer. “With sports, you can go on to play in college and perhaps professionally, but these students will be pros in solving problems and creating solutions.”
The HHS Robotics Team is currently raising money in order to fund their championship quest. They have set up a GoFundMe page to help raise the $25,000 needed to travel to the FIRST Robotics Championship in St. Louis on April 27-30, 2016.