In just over one month, 21 students from Suffern High School will descend on Detroit, MI for the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championships. This is the 5th year in the team’s 11-year history (last time was 2016) competing against 160 teams from around the world. Their hard work and dedicated efforts won them the Think Award and 2nd place Inspire Award at the State competition in February and they are working tirelessly to get ready for this next challenge.
The Robotics team is unlike any other in the District. The level of knowledge and effort of the students involved is inspiring. To observe this team in action is like stepping into an engineering firm and watching professionals create new products. This team has captains (or department heads), dedicated CAD programmers/designers, outreach coordinators, machining and printing jobs, documentarians, fundraising and budget departments, and so much more! It is life experience, job experience, project management and public speaking and collaboration skills all rolled into one.
For Fran Daszak, the Suffern Robotics Team has changed her life. Now a senior and co-captain of the team with Ethan Holand, she credits this extra-curricular activity for changing her opinion of everything and propelling her into a career in mechanical engineering.
“Engineering is the most fundamental concept in humanity. It’s basically figuring out ways to solve problems and help people in everyday life. The robotics team teaches you to understand that you can make anything and can make anything happen.”
To get ready for the upcoming competition, in addition to trying to raise $18,000, the team is working on making their existing robot design better, faster and stronger. They start in CAD mode where they design every piece of the robot and game on the computer, then they either use a 3D printer or machines to create the parts before physically building the entire robot. They spend 3-hours a day, every day after school together perfecting their design. While they perfect their designs, they are focusing a lot of efforts on community outreach. Through interactions with engineering firms and other professionals, they learn more about the field of engineering and make connections that they hope will lead to sponsorships and donations. Additionally, they want to share their passions with our younger Mounties, and when possible, visit the middle and elementary schools to teach them about robotics and engineering, hoping to spark interest for more members. Lastly, they can be seen spending weekends at local events, including the Suffern Street Fair and the upcoming NEAF (North Eastern Astronomy Forum) Expo, to raise awareness for their successes.
“Robotics is the future, adds Daszak. “This is a practical skill that will take students through high school, into college and beyond.”
For more on the Robotics team, or to make a donation through their GoFundMe page, you can find them as (@suffernrobotics) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
They will also be featured prominently at the REACH STEAM expo on Saturday, April 6.