Cyber Knights have new practice home

By Ed Harris
The Southington High School robotics team will have a new practice space thanks to Mohawk Northeast.
The engineering company, based in Plantsville, recently stepped forward to provide the team a place to practice after it lost its former space at Saucier Mechanical, an issue that the team had an agreement on and knew was coming ahead of time. The team still has six classrooms, a shop and meeting space donated through Saucier.
“We’re really excited to sponsor the kids,” said Joe Ortowski, public relations administer for Mohawk. “The Southington team is very successful. There are a lot of bright minds there.”
The Cyber Knights team is now in its 17th year and currently consists of 65 students. The team is supported by more than a dozen mentors that donate their time to help teach the students.
Over the years, the team has traveled the country, winning titles and creating a legacy of success. Last year, the team made a return trip to the world championships, held in Missouri. In 2006 the team finished second in the global competition.
In March, the team will host its first FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition. The competition will feature 40 teams from Connecticut and other New England states.
Mohawk is donating a 4,000 sq. foot area for the team to practice. The practice field is an important component of the team’s success, said Sandra Brino, a Cyber Knight mentor.
“The practice facility is critical to our on field success,” Brino said. “It allows the programmers to test the programming on an exact replica of the scoring mechanisms on the real FIRST field.  In addition, it allows our drive team practice using the robot functions.”
The Cyber Knights will also invite other Connecticut teams to come join in scrimmages, Brino said.
Each season, the team is tasked with creating a robot that can complete a specific objective. The team has six weeks to create the robots.
Brino said this year’s objective will be released on January 4. Last year, the robots were required to throw Frisbees into scoring slots. The year prior, the robots had to play basketball.
In the meantime, the Cyber Knights are working on smaller VEX robots to help teach the basics of robotics to newer team members.

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