Some students at Westmont Hilltop High School are getting their tech on.
Last year, the school formed the WestyTek Robotics club and designed its first robot to compete in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Competition that was held in Pittsburgh.
The goal of FIRST, dubbed “The Varsity Sport for the Mind,” is to encourage young people to become leaders in science and technology by engaging them in mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills that inspire innovation and foster self-confidence and communication and leadership skills.
The team’s first competition didn’t go so well. But this year, team members were more determined to make a good showing.
In early January, members started designing, building and programming the robot they named Seymore.
Last month, 17 of the team’s 25 members attended the regional competition held at California University of Pennsylvania to take part in this year’s game, Aerial Assist.
The game was played by two competing alliances of three robots each. The objective was to score as many balls in goals as possible during a timed match. The more alliances scored, and the more they worked together to do it, the more points the alliance received.
After numerous rounds, WestyTek beat out 47 other teams and was named the winner. It earned the right to move on to FIRST’s international championship that will be held April 23 through 26 in the Edward James Dome in St. Louis.
“It was cool to just get into the playoffs because we felt that was attainable,” said senior Adam Shark. “It’s amazing. Support we had was great.”
Sophomore Bryan Mock said after last year’s disappointing results it felt great to come out on top.
“We’ve accomplished something and that is what we wanted to do. It shows that we can do it,” he said.
Likewise, junior Noah Gordon said competing last year was a good experience because it helped them understand what they needed to do this year.
“This was much better than the first year. We were more together and confident,” he said.
Seymore was shipped to St. Louis last week and any modifications to the robot must be done at the international competition.
The team, which will be comprised of 20 students, is planning some small and larger changes to make the robot compete more effectively.
“There will 400 teams there, but I think we’ll do well. We’re ready,” Shark said.
Anyone interested in helping cover project costs, such as materials, transportation and registration fees, can donate through the WestyTek website at www.westytek.com.
Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/KellyUrban25.