Hewlett High School’s robotics team captured three awards — second place overall in the competition, first place for the Control Award and third place for the Design Award — at Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park on Jan. 15.
The Control Award celebrates a team that uses sensors and software to increase the robot’s functionality in the field. The Design Award recognizes design elements of the robot that are both functional and aesthetic and is presented to teams that incorporate industrial design elements into their robot.
The Hewlett High students spent the last day before the competition working on getting everything finalized. Students had to design their robots and prepare them to perform certain tasks and learn to program and document their processes. Janine Torresson, the Robotics Club coach oversees three teams: Bionica, Innovo, and RoboBoogie. Each team designed its own robot for the competition. Last year, Roboboogie advanced to the World Championship for the first time in school history.
Long Island hosted 25 teams around Nassau and Suffolk in the special robotics competition on Sunday. For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring young people to study science and technology by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills.
Hewlett’s Robotics Club is a dedicated group of 50 students that spends hours refining its skills every week in preparation for competition. The clubs meets each week after school on Friday for six hours, squeezing in as much work as they can.
“They have a lot of commitments so grabbing enough time for robotics can sometimes be difficult,” Torresson said. “But they want to be here. They want to learn. They’re motivated and most of them really want to get some engineering experience before they go off to college.”
While preparing for the competition, the teams also engage in community outreach to promote robotics, which encompasses everything from seeking local sponsors to conducting workshops for elementary school students.
“We’re a robotics team and the community should know we are around and one way to do that is to show up and help out somewhere,” Torresson said. “Everyone should love science and we want to motivate, connect, and talk to different businesses.
Hewlett senior, Brandon Salazar, the club’s outreach manager has done a large amount of community outreach this school year. “I really liked what they were doing and it was good to surround myself with like-minded people,” he said on why he joined robotics in his junior year. “If one of our teams wins the other two teams are happy and we all cheer.”
Salazar has had a close long standing connection with David Friedman, president of the Hewlett-Woodmere Business Association, who suggested he start a club that performs the community cleanups Hewlett and Woodmere in exchange for student community service hours. Students will be running the club next school year
Senior David Rudman has reached out to elementary schools, to teach kids about robotics. “Last week, we went to our elementary school and the little kids there actually got to drive the robot, and the kids loved it.”
While the long Friday nights help the robotics teams prepare for competition and the year-long community outreach aids in giving back to the community, the most effective part is the idea of gracious professionalism at competitions, one of the values FIRST promotes among robotics competitors.
“Kids will come to help you from another team even though you’re at their competition,” Torresson said. “We have 25 teams that show up at a competition and everybody helps everybody.”