New Visions Engineering students from The Tech Center bowled over judges at the Hudson Valley FIRST Tech Challenge held recently at Pace University in Pleasantville
“I installed a boost into the joy stick, so the pilots could use it to get the robot and the bowling ball up the incline,” said Horace Greeley senior Matthew Drucker. Matthew, who was the team’s “coach,” worked with fellow teammates and Hendrick Hudson seniors Sam Melnik, Jasper Syrig, and Steven Ruotolo, who “piloted” the robot.
Thirty-six teams from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts competed in the challenge, in which high school students design and build a robots using aluminum, polycarbonate, motors, sensors, and a variety of other materials. They then compete in a series of maneuvering challenges and tasks with their robots.
Though the day didn’t start out well for the Tech teammates — “Two of our remotes ended up breaking because the motors burned out,” said Steven, which made them do poorly in two phases of the competition — their sense of teamwork and tenacity kept them going enough to put them in second place.
“Team work was the most important thing that contributed to us doing well,” said Matthew. “The communication between the coach and the pilots was key.”
Tech teachers Carlo Vidrini, Michael Rattner and Gerry Markel began working with students on their robots in the fall, often coming in on weekends and after school, so the sense of team building began early.
All of the students agreed that knowing each other and being able to talk to each other is what made them succeed. “The experience really helped me see how important communication is,” said Sam.
And the fact that they get to indulge their passion for engineering every day at The Tech Center didn’t hurt their performance.
“I love the program at Tech,” said Steven. “I’ve been in Robotics programs before, and this is one of the best. We get hands-on experience here that we can apply later, and we are doing exactly what we want to do.”
Said Sam,“I’m getting to know people here at Tech who I wouldn’t have met. It’s given me one of the best educational experiences I could get in high school.”
In addition to Tech’s New Vision’s Engineering team, a team of students from Tech’s Introduction to Engineering class also entered the competition, placing eighth out of 36 competitors.
“This was an absolutely tremendous accomplishment,” said Tech Center director Cathy Balestrieri. “The time teachers and students spent over and above class time working to prepare for this event really paid off.”
Photo: Tech students won second place in the First Tech Challenge at Pace. From left: Samuel Melnik, Jasper Syrig and Steven Ruotolo, all from Hendrick Hudson; Matthew Drucker, from Horace Greeley. Courtesy Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES