The Assabet Valley Regional Technical High robotics team, the AZTECHS 157, was on the road again, this time competing in the FIRST Robotics Rhode Island event held at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island this past weekend. After two days of tough competition with 40 other high school teams,paired randomly with two other teams per match, the team finally bowed out in the quarter finals, ending up in 8thplace overall. The best part of the weekend, however, was during the Awards ceremony at the end, when the coveted Excellence in Engineering Award was announced. Once again being recognized for their extensive use of 3D printing, the AZTECHS were called down from the spectator stands to receive their trophies.
“This is just the best award they could give us, as it speaks to how much we’ve adapted to using 3D printing, which is being utilized more and more in every industry. Our students are well versed in this technology and quite articulate when the judges visit our pit area and ask questions. The judges don’t talk to the adult mentors; it’s the students that have to explain everything on the robot. It is such a rush to hear our students comfortably discuss their design and manufacture process with highly qualified industry and education specialists, and obviously impress them!” remarked Marcus Fletcher, Project Leader of the team (and a 1999 graduate of the school and the team).
“Although Assabet’s emphasis has long been on state of the art technology, particularly in engineering fields, we are especially happy to note that many of our team members have been taking the school’s Advanced Placement Pre-Engineering courses from our nationally certified Project Lead the Way instructors. To add to that, several of our freshmen team members were recently announced as part of the inaugural class of our new Engineering Academy, so receiving recognition at two robotics competitions for our engineering expertise and creativity just validates our premise that Assabet Valley is an obvious choice for those seeking a true STEM or engineering pathway to a career,” commented Cindy Zomar, a team mentor and the Admissions Coordinator for the school.
Patrick Hughes, a senior from Clinton, also added, “FIRST robotics is not just about robots, it’s teaching us skills that we will be using for the rest of our lives, like gracious professionalism, and teamwork, and how to think creatively.” Hughes has been a member of the team for four years, but attended many meetings even as a younger child when he accompanied each of his older brothers, Shamus and Sean, to robotics events. Both older brothers have mentored the team since their graduation from the school.
The team is grateful to all of their sponsors, particularly Boston Scientific, EMC, Raytheon, Entwistle, 3DSDP, Novotechnik, Inc., Fastenerz, Central Mass Powder Coating., and Marlborough Nissan, for making the season possible.