By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – On the heels of a tough loss year in 2013, members of the Shrewsbury High School FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team #467 rallied together this year to win both the Entrepreneurship Award and the Pine Tree District Creativity Award at regional competitions.
“I think our growth comes from the blending of wins and losses,” suggested team mentor, Sira Naras. “2012 was a huge winning year for the team with an amazingly sweet robot (and a regional competition win in Washington, D.C.) and 2013 was a tough loss for the team with a robot that never really met its full potential. I think those back-to-back experiences made for a more level and balanced team mind set of what the 2014 year would like. The students knew they had the very real potential to be champions again, but they’d also learned the hard reality of a robot fail and a very tough competition year.”
This year moved forward on a more even keel, said Naras, with what she saw to be a very mature and effective approach.
For Team #467, winning the Robotics Entrepreneurship Award at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) regional qualifying competition was the realization of a long time dream. The award celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit by recognizing a team that has developed the framework for a comprehensive business plan to scope, manage, and achieve team objectives. In addition, the winning team must display entrepreneurial enthusiasm and have the vital business skills to ensure a self-sustaining program.
At the Lewiston, Maine Pine Tree District Competition, Team #467?had 12 qualifying matches and ended the event in 12th place. The team was praised for its design and functions of their drive train and received the 2014 Pine Tree District Creativity Award which celebrates creativity in design, use of component, or strategy of play.
Prior to the competition season, the 48 students, 26 mentors and 9 alumni mentors of Team #467 worked together for the six week build season – seven days and nights a week – to strategize, design and build. The students worked together in an environment where they needed to be innovative, to use critical thinking, technical intelligence and skills, to work as a team, to manage personality issues (theirs and others) and to do it all under an extremely tight deadline. And, despite the circumstances, members of Team #467 remained on task and in sync with one another.
“What impressed me the most with these kids is how they treated each other while in the middle of this environment,” said Naras. “They respected each other, they supported each other, they watched out for each other at all times. It was truly something to behold.”
Team #467 will be heading to WPI once again- just for fun this time- for the post-season BattleCry competition on May 24 and 25.