Robotics team takes top spot at challenge

Courtesy photo Tech Tonix members pictured (in blue T-shirts) are, from left, Rishika Bansal, Taylor Oster and Amelia Magay.

BEDFORD – Bedford robotics team Tech Tonix took a top spot by advancing to the semi-final round, and brought home the Control Award in New Hampshire’s first annual FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship, held last month in Wolfeboro. Tech Tonix, a rookie team made up of eight Lurgio seventh graders, placed fifth in the state and walked away with the award when the day was done.

The Control Award celebrates a Team that uses sensors and software to enhance the Robot’s functionality on the field. This award is given to the Team that demonstrates innovative thinking in the control system to solve game challenges such as autonomous operation, enhancing mechanical systems with intelligent control, or using sensors to achieve better results on the field. The control component should work consistently on the field.

Tech Tonix, the only town team where the students attend a Bedford school, was one of the youngest teams in the state’s FTC program. Although all are seventh-grade students at Lurgio Middle School, this is not a school-run program.

“The team was on its own to raise funds, and did so quite well,” said team mentor Linda Magay. “One of the team’s many supporters was the Bedford Men’s Club that graciously sponsored the playing field that allowed the team to practice for scrimmages. In an effort to keep STEM programs thriving in the community, Tech Tonix will donate the playing field and its components to future Bedford FTC teams once the team has run it course. As it stands, Tech Tonix will be competing again next year.

“We started with a box of parts that came with no instructions and built one heck of a robot. This program is well supported by volunteers devoted to helping our next generation of engineers and programmers. Mentors and volunteers are key to this program and the other team mentor, Jeff Kerr offered his knowledge of mechanics and engineering to help guide our team throughout the season. It was a terrific experience for everyone and the team will definitely be returning for a second year. Our team will be recruiting a few more kids for next year who are have an interest in building and programming robots.”

FIRST is an out-of-school program for seventh- to 12-grade students that was founded by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen, who is also a Bedford resident, to help students learn about the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through hands-on learning and interdisciplinary experience in the field of robotics. FIRST stands for “For Inspiring and Recognition of Science and Technology.”

FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, NH, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

FIRST is More Than Robots. FIRST participation is proven to encourage students to pursue education and careers in STEM-related fields, inspire them to become leaders and innovators, and enhance their 21 st century work-life skills.

Another great win at the FTC State Championship was Bedford resident Katie Lupo, who took home the FIRST Dean’s List Award. Katie is a junior at Bishop Guertin High School. Bishop Guertin has a very successful FIRST Robotics program and teams from the school have been to St. Louis multiple times, where the world championship for FIRST is held each year.

Dean’s List Award

In an effort to recognize the leadership and dedication of FIRST’s most outstanding FIRST Tech Challenge students, the Kamen family sponsors an award for selected top students known as the FIRST Dean’s List. Since its introduction in 2010, the FIRST Dean’s List Award has attracted the attention of prestigious colleges and universities who desire to recruit FIRST Dean’s List students.

The Criteria for selection of the FIRST Dean’s List includes a student’s:

– Demonstrated leadership and commitment to the ideals of FIRST;

– Interest in and passion for a long term commitment to FIRST and its ideals;

– Overall individual contribution to their Team;

– Technical expertise and passion;

– Entrepreneurship and creativity;

– Ability to motivate and lead fellow Team members; and

– Ability to effectively increase awareness of FIRST in their school and community.

Submitted by Linda Magay, Bedford.