Robotics Team Readies For Competitions

 Mentor, Donald Fisher works with Huntington High School students, Anthony Amitrano, Nick Bozsnyak and Patrick Langton to build a robot.

Mentor, Donald Fisher works with Huntington High School students, Anthony Amitrano, Nick Bozsnyak and Patrick Langton to build a robot.

By Sophia Ricco
sricco@longislandergroup.com

 

You can create anything you put your mind to and the Huntington High School Robotics team is a prime example of this, with four World Championships in the bag the Robotics team is looking to have another sensational year.

But robot parts don’t come cheap. This is why Huntington Robotics Incorporated is hosting their third annual Robotics Fundraiser on Nov. 5 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Launchpad of Huntington, 315 Main Street. It will be a fun, casual cocktail party with beer provided by Six Harbors Brewery and food by Babalu Cuban Bistro.

Huntington Robotics Incorporated is a nonprofit that supports Team 5016 through fundraising money and providing mentors. President of the Parent Association of Huntington Robotics, Peggy Low, got involved through her son and daughter’s participation in the group. She admires the clubs values of building and involvement with STEM, their community outreach and the business skills it teaches students, but admits that the venture is a costly one.

“Running a competitive robotics team with the FIRST organization, our league, is a very expensive endeavour,” Low said. “The entry fee to a competition is $5,000 and we try to do two competitions a year.”

Huntington High School has been a great help to the team by giving them financial support for competitions and transportation, but this funding still is not enough to completely run Team 5016. This leaves it up to Huntington Robotics Incorporated to fundraise and the high school students to secure corporate sponsors. If a parent gets a lead from a corporate sponsor, they will tell the students and help make the introduction, but after that they step back.

“The students themselves have to communicate with the corporate sponsor, try to get an appointment for a presentation, make a pitch presentation and close the deal,” Low said.

It is truly up to the students to run their team, with advising from faculty members, Omar Santiago and Brian Reynolds. The kids have a business plan and voting procedures, along with governing themselves. This fall Huntington Robotics students have been planning and coordinating their community outreach, as well as crafting a method on how they will educate and train next year’s team.

For the team, their community outreach is a major component of their season. Team 5016 wants to promote STEM learning in the area through initiatives and meeting with other students. Coming up, the team will be holding a Women’s Empowerment Symposium on Nov. 19 that is open for all to attend.

“We’ve gotten a lot of kids involved in the community with STEM that didn’t think they were interested,” Low said. “The kids basically do everything themselves.”

From where it began in 2013, with around nine students involved, the Robotics team has grown with over 50 students, many of them female and spanish speaking students. In their six years as a team, Team 5016 has attended four World Championships. Their most recent being in Detroit last April.

Looking forward to this year’s World Championships, the group will not know any of the details of the challenge until January 5th, when the FIRST League releases it. From there, they have six weeks to build a robot that will score them as many points as possible. It is “a lot like a real world problem”, because it requires being solved quickly while also working well.

“Once they release the ways in which the robot can score points, the designers of the robots, the programmers and the developers, who are students, sit down together for a week or two to come up with a prototype of what they want to build,” Low said.

A team like Team 5016 gives students the ability to work together for a common goal, while showing them strengths they may never have known they possessed.

“Many don’t realize that their particular skill set that they already have - whether it’s leadership, the ability to do coding, or they’re just good builders - can be applied to a team effort like robotics,” Low said. “Robotics is sort of like a sports team for the mind.”

Parents of the robotics team, board of education members and administration members from the school district, and sponsors will be attending the event. All are invited and welcomed to attend and support Team 5016. Tickets are on sale for the event for $75. Purchase by visiting team5016.com.