Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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Award-winning student robotics team prepares for international competition

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Award-winning student robotics team prepares for international competition
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FIRST Team No. 5030 is a group of 10 high school students who received two honors this past weekend at the regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Challenge. They won the Rookie All-Star Award and the Highest Rookie Seed Award, qualifying them to compete next month in St. Louis.

MARCY, N.Y. -- Robotics competitions involve a lot of hard work and dedication. Students must design, program, build and test their robot.

The competition game involves passing and shooting a ball to earn points.

"The game starts with an autonomous period in which the robot moves with a pre-programmed setting and there's no human control driver involved," explained Nicholas Finn, a senior from Holland Patent Central High School. "After that the human driver steps in and they control the robot."

FIRST Team No. 5030 is co-sponsored by SUNYIT and BOCES. They can't wait to show off their robot at the FRC World Festival Competition. Team members say not only is robotics fun, but it gets them ready for the future.

"It definitely helps to prepare you if you're entering a field in engineering," said Finn, who is headed to Cornell University this fall. "To build this robot we have many different constraints: materials we can use, weight limits prices and budgets. And all these problems are real world applications in the engineering field."

The team, also known as "The Second Mouse" meets three days a week for three hours. They met Monday to go celebrate their awards, talk strategy and come up with ways to raise money.

The team has three college freshman mentors from SUNYIT, Ben Weiss, Dominick Ferone and Justin Melnitsky. The three went to high school on Long Island together, and came to their university because of the opportunity to start a robotics team there.

"I joined an FRC team freshman year in high school and that's what inspired me to become an engineer," said Justin Melnitsky. "It made me realize what I wanted to do in life. Before that I really had no clue what I wanted to do."

FIRST Team No. 5030 will face more than 400 international teams at the competition. The team is working to fund-raise $10,000 for their trip to St. Louis next month.

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