by Michele Murphy
Two are freshmen and two are juniors. Two are girls and two are boys. Two are experienced and two are new at robotics. Yet, they work as one united team when it comes to robotics.
Maddie Torres and Dezirae Fritz, freshman girls trying their hand at robotics for the first time this school year, have something else in common. Both say their curiosity about robotics — actually, making things — began for them as youngsters hanging out with their dads and grandfathers as they worked on cars in their garages. “I didn’t actually repair cars, but I watched them work and helped,” says Dezirae. She said her interest is directly attributable to her dad and grandfather’s influence.
Maddie says watching her dad, who is a mechanic, work on cars spurred her interest and that when her friends told her robotics was fun, she says, “I thought I’d try it out.”
They team with Eric Fabanich and Nick Silecky. Both had been involved with robotics for three years. Eric says he’s always had an interest in technology believing it can have a huge impact on improving society. Nick says what appeals to him is “thinking of something and then creating it in the real world.”
The name of the team’s robot is a tip of the hat to Nick’s Ukrainian heritage. In English, it is called Artyom while in Ukranian, it is Aptem. The design, which was the creation of the team, features arms that extend to the side then move together, almost like an embrace, to capture stars and cubes to run up point totals during competition. The state competition is the first time the redesigned robot will compete.
All four students are thrilled to have an opportunity to compete at the state level. It marks the first time Brookside has fielded two separate teams that qualified for statewide competition.
According to adviser Kevin Landis, the team faced a tough schedule during last weekend’s state competition, working with partner schools they had not previously known or worked with. Landis explained this makes competition at that level extremely challenging for young people, particularly those competing in state championships for the first time. As a result, the team did not do as well during qualifying rounds and were eliminated. Landis reports the team is already making plans to work together and compete next year.
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