Robotics, minus senior prom attendees, competes in Mo.

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Zoe Kenealy, staff writer

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Robotics team MorTorq 1515 advanced to the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) championships at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo. The competition lasted four days,  April 23-26.

“We were lucky enough to have advanced to this level of competition through our victory in Las Vegas,” junior 1515 member Gabriella Shofet said. “We competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)  as one of 400 teams in our level. FTC (First Tech Challenge) and FLL (First Lego League) also had their own competitions.”

The FIRST championships lasted through the weekend of prom, and with an incomplete crew, present 1515 members faced the additional challenge of meeting the team’s fullest potential.

“I did not attend St. Louis because it was also my senior prom. I do regret not being able to be there for my team, but I knew that 1515 would be strong enough to carry its own weight,” senior 1515 member Justin Kim said. “Hearing the news of the team’s performance made me proud despite the fact that we did not place first.”

While in St. Louis, 1515 competed for the Chairman’s Award, “the most prestigious award at FIRST…It honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST,” according to USFIRST.org. The goal of FIRST remains to “inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

In competing for the Chairman’s Award, 1515 prepared a puppet show aimed at interesting kids in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) through, according to Shofet, “fun and creative ways such as a Shakespeare play.”

Although 1515 ended with a score of 3-7 and was not able to capture the Chairman’s Award, the team was proud of the fact that it was able to score the fourth most autonomous points in Galileo, 1515’s division. The other three divisions included in the competition were Archimedes, Curie and Newton.

“In addition to competing for Chairman’s, we competed with our robot and placed 74th in our division,” Shofet said. “We were proud of what we were able to achieve, especially with a smaller team.”

Shofet was given the opportunity of meeting FIRST founder Dean Kamen and considers the privilege similar to those of attending the FIRST competitions.

“Every one of these competitions offer so much more than awards to take home and meeting Kamen was only indicative of that,” Shofet said. “Seeing a man who had a vision and was able to carry it out, and now gets to see thousands of kids competing to support his vision was truly inspiring. In addition to being inspired by Kamen, simply working through the events with my division despite any difficulties made me all the more determined and motivated to finish off my career with 1515 as strong as possible.”

Team 1515 looks at the opportunity to have attended the St. Louis competition as an honor and reward for the hard work each and every member has put into making the team both competitive in its division, and unified in its efforts. A major goal of the team leading up to St. Louis has been to ensure a strong sense of teamwork and responsibility for fellow members. According to Kim, the absence of the numerous 1515 members due to the senior prom having taken place the same weekend of the championships only proved the ability of 1515 to take initiative when push comes to shove.

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