By Lisa Capobianco
After finishing in second place overall during the New England Championship, the Southington Cyber Knights are now heading to the World Championship in St. Louis.
Competing against 53 teams from throughout the region during the New England Championship in Boston, the Cyber Knights finished qualification rounds as the number one seed, and chose Team 558 “Robo Squad” from New Haven for the final elimination bracket. They also selected rookie team 5122 “Robo-Ties from Old Town, Maine to join their alliance. Besides placing second overall, the Cyber Knights also won the Industrial Design Award for the robust design of their robot.
“I’m excited and proud of my team,” said junior Tyler Brinton, who serves as the chairman lead for the Cyber Knights.
Brinton added that he also feels proud of mentor Sandra Brino for winning the Woodie Flowers Award, which recognized her for being an “outstanding mentor” of New England. Founded in 1996, the Woodie Flowers Award honors mentors who “lead, inspire, and empower using excellent communication skills,” according to the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) organization’s website. Students may submit an essay nominating one mentor from their team to be considered for the award each year.
“I’m blown away by that honor,” said Brino, who has served as a mentor for eight years now. “It’s the biggest honor I’ve ever received.”
Brinton wrote the essay for the nomination, explaining how Brino has made a positive impact on the team, inspiring members through a variety of ways, including creativity, problem-solving, encouragement to work as a team and demonstration of enthusiasm for math, science and engineering.
Tyler said his team nominated Brino for her dedication in not only helping the Cyber Knights improve in their knowledge and skills of creating a robot but also for her commitment to giving back to community. The Cyber Knights have performed various community service projects, such as visiting with local veterans.
Tyler mentioned how Brino also inspired him to take on his current role of the chairman’s lead, which involves overseeing and managing the process of applying for the Chairman’s Award, the most prestigious award that a FIRST team can win. The application process involves writing a 10,000 character essay, answering 11 different essay questions, submitting a three-minute video, creating a live Powerpoint presentation and making a file book of the team’s media exposure, business plan and community outreach projects in the areas of STEM and in other areas unrelated to STEM. Tyler, who played a role in submitting the essay and video, said Brino inspired him to see what he is capable of accomplishing.
“She has inspired me to become a better leader,” said Tyler, who hopes to become a biomedical engineer in the future. “She encouraged me to take the position of the chairman’s lead—it gave me the opportunity to expand my leadership qualities.”
With the World Championship scheduled to take place from April 23 to April 26, the Cyber Knights have prepared to take on the competition, inviting Team “Robo Squad” to join them. United Technologies, which served as a major sponsor of the team this year, and has paid the entrance fee for the Cyber Knights.
The Cyber Knights said they feel excited to join the “Robo Squad” team in their next competition.
“Team 195 does a lot of outreach to other teams,” said Tyler, adding that working with other teams like Robo Squad allows everyone as a whole to improve. “By building friendships, we have improved ourselves.”
Last month, the Cyber Knights won the New England FIRST District event held at Southington High School, 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 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.
This year the team designed the robot to play the game Aerial 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.