By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – As the new school year gets under way, members of the Shrewsbury High School FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team 467 have begun to prepare for a year of team building, community building and robot building.
The team of 49 students, which falls under the leadership of the Shrewsbury Robotics Steering Committee, is led by student leaders, industry engineers, parents and community members.
The team's program coordinator is Raj Patel, a SELCO employee who offers desktop support for the town employees. Patel joined Shrewsbury Robotics when it began fifteen years ago.
“Actually, I didn’t initially plan on joining,” said Patel. “It all started fifteen years ago when my former boss/mentor, Bob Cornacchioli, received a call from Compaq looking to start a FIRST Robotics team. He asked me to join, just four weeks before the season started. Since my brother, Kush, was a student on the team that first year, I decided to join. The short story is that I joined because I's crazy about helping students learn about science, engineering and technology and have the best experience possible.”
There are a number of team mentors with skills that range from engineering to public relations.
“This team has mentors whose children have long since graduated from the high school/team, but these mentors have stayed and continue to dedicate their time and talents, because it's such a great team,” said Sira Naras, a team mentor for the past two years. Naras, who has a daughter on the team, provides fundraising and grant writing support for the team.
Robotics Team 467 shares a bond unlike most. According to Naras, they spend time together all year long.
“Together they have pool parties, Frisbee parties and pizza parties. They ski, sled and go to Six Flags together. They are at each other's homes all of the time, connect on-line most evenings and are together daily at school,” said Naras. “They genuinely care about and support each other. In the many decades of my life I do not recall ever being more proud of a team membership than I am of this one.”
During the first half of the year, the team meets formally at least once a week.
In January FIRST Robotics will make an announcement from Northeastern University regarding a world-wide FIRST Robotics Challenge. From that moment on, each team has six weeks to build, bag, and tag their robot.
During the six-week “Build Season,” Robotics Team 467 eats dinner together six nights a week.
“This is definitely an anomaly for FIRST teams.?The family style leadership/dynamic has created a team which feels more like a family,” said Naras. “This family culture is evident to all those who interact with the team.”
Robotics Team 467 is completely volunteer-run and operates on a budget that is completely donated. On Saturday, Oct. ?5 they will be hosting a comedy show/fundraiser at Maironis Park, 52 S. Quinsigamond Ave. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; show starts at 7:30 p.m. ?Tickets for the 21 and older event are $25. There will be a cash bar and snacks.
Headlining the night will be James Dorsey, winner of the TV show “Catch a Rising Star,” who will share his life experiences through high energy, witty act outs and facial expressions. Dorsey has been featured in “Worcester Magazine,” “Pulse Magazine,” the “Boston Herald,” and on ?Spike TV, the MyTV Network, and Comcast on Demand. He was the winner of the 2011 Plymouth Rock Comedy Festival. Joining Dorsey will be comedians Dan Crohn and Tom Stewart.
To see a video of the 2013 team in action visit:? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIfirBe7CN8