Cyber Knights take crown at FIRST event

By Lisa Capobianco
Staff Writer
The Southington Cyber Knights won the New England FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) District event held at the high school this past weekend, for the first time, bringing home a winning banner for the fourth year in a row.
After a fierce competition against 32 teams from New England, the Cyber Knights
not only came home with the win, but they also won the Quality Award for the robustness of their robot named the “F-195 Knighthawk” in honor of the U.S. Air Force, which sponsored Team 195 for the first time this year, according to a press release.
Dr. Martin Semmel, the principal of Southington High School, said he felt proud of the team’s success as well as the organization of the event.
“The professionalism and commitment demonstrated by our parents and community members have made you all fantastic role models for our students/kids,” said Dr. Semmel, congratulating the team in an e-mail. “This team has provided our students with so many valuable opportunities and skills that they will use for a lifetime.”
This year the Cyber Knights designed their robot to play a game called Arial Assist, which involves two alliances of three teams each competing to score as many balls in goals as possible in a match lasting two minutes and 30 seconds long. They could earn additional points by robots working together to score goals. Sandra Brino, a mentor of the team, said in the release that Team 195 was seeded in first place after two days of qualification matches, and selected two teams—the Mecha-Rams (Team 999) from Cheshire and Team 558 Robo Squad from New Haven.
“The three robots’ design features complimented each other perfectly,” said Brino in the release. “Their game strategy was excellently planned and executed and they came home with the win.”
Town Councilor Dawn Miceli served as a judge during the competition. During Monday night’s Town Council meeting, Miceli said she enjoyed being behind-the-scenes of the competition, which she called an “economic driver” for the community, since 32 teams from different New England states participated.
“These students are truly our 21st century global citizens, and this applied STEM learning is just fabulous for our community,” Miceli said.
“What an exhilarating experience,” added Town Councilor Stephanie Urillo, who saw the Cyber Knights in action last weekend. “It’s just a great activity for our town and our high school to be involved with.”
Weeks before the competition, the Cyber Knights completed last-minute tweaks on their120-pound twin robot, and practicing in a space donated by engineering company Mohawk Northeast in Plantsville, where they have invited other teams from the state to practice too.
Now in its seventeenth year, the Cyber Knights team spent six weeks building, programming, testing and designing the robot, creating an official one to be used in the competition and a “twin” robot to troubleshoot any difficulties.
For the Cyber Knights, the win means a qualification for a spot at the New England District Championship, which will take place in Boston April 10 through April 12. The team will compete against 54 of the best robotics teams from throughout New England during the District Championship, the release stated.
“I have been so impressed with our robotics team since I arrived at SHS four years ago,” said Dr. Semmel in an e-mail. “

By Tammi Naudus Cyber Knight member Mateusz Gaciarz  looks over the robot before it is brought into the arena. For more photos, see page 21.

By Tammi Naudus
Cyber Knight member Mateusz Gaciarz looks over the robot before it is brought into the arena. For more photos, see page 21.

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