Robotics Business Team capitalizes on NASA grant win, planning fundraisers


The Robotics Team and Panda Express conduct first virtual fundraiser


Nick Kay staff writer
Starting their competition season off the right way, the Robotics Business Team has won its first NASA FIRST grant of the year. The team’s Business President Sarah Lepkowitz reveals how she accidentally discovered and then eventually applied for this particular grant. 
“We weren’t really looking [for grants] because we hadn’t heard back from one we previously applied for, but I just happened to find this one on FIRST’s website…the first website I went onto…we just happened to find it on the internet,” Lepkowitz said.
Not knowing anything about the amount of money the grant was for or how they planned to use that money, both the overseeing teacher John Castle and Lepkowitz were “thankful but slightly disappointed” when receiving a follow-up email a few days after the original announcement, explaining exactly what they won.
“It is kind of disappointing, but basically everyone who applied for [the grant] got it because of COVID-19. This grant wasn’t one NASA FIRST had in the past,” said Lepkowitz.
NASA FIRST is “the organization that puts on all of the robotics events” and the students use their website as a great resource for “grants, robot information, game information and more.” 
Senior Eli Katz, and Build President of the Robotics Business Team, expresses his excitement about their win. 
“It is terrific because it means we are fully sponsored by the NASA grant and we can put NASA on our shirts, so it will be really great,” Katz said. 
While the team waits for new grant opportunities, they plan to put the $450 prize money toward their competition season registration fees. Katz praises his co-president, as well as each member of the business team.
“Our Business Team has really kicked things into the top gear,” he said. “We have fundraisers lined up, three different grants on track…I’m really proud of them.”
A week after winning the grant, the Robotics Business Team conducted its first virtual fundraiser. With the help of Panda Express’s new virtual community fundraisers, the team was able to raise money from donors all across the country.
The team has yet to receive information about the final amount raised, but Lepkowitz predicts “a couple hundred dollars” as the outcome of the fundraiser. 
“I am so proud of how our team has come together to raise money for the benefit of not only current students but future robotics team members too,” Lepkowitz said.