By TAYLOR HARTZ
Southington High School’s Cyber Knights robotics team have been named the New England District champions and will continue on to the World Championship in St. Louis later this month.
The Cyber Knights joined more than 60 high school robotics teams for a three-day competition at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass., last weekend. Following an 11-1 winning streak in their 12 qualifying matches this year, the CyberK nights swept the board at WPI, winning with a score of 256. It was the highest score earned at a regional U.S. competition to date.
The team, also known as FIRST Team 195, competed in the New England championship sponsored by FIRST. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a not-for-profit public charity based in Manchester, N.H., founded in 1989 to encourage youth leadership in science and technology.
FIRST provides high school robotics teams with regional and world-wide competitions, of which the Cyber Knights have been active participants since 1998. Their annual three-day competition includes practice matches, robot inspections, qualifying matches, and playoffs.
According to the team 195 website, the Cyber Knights currently have 64 active members, whose mission is to bring “the celebration of science and technology to the forefront of our community.”
FIRST competitions drive the efforts of the Cyber Knights team, offering “tremendous value to students from an experiential learning, college readiness and social perspective” according to the team’s website. Students are challenged to work with their peers and mentors to use a standard “kit of parts” and set of rules over six weeks, to design, build and program robots for competition.
The team, who rely on community mentorship and sponsorship, participate in several annual competitions with FIRST using these robots. These competitions aim to encourage “students to better themselves by working with experienced professionals and demonstrating success in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” according to the team’s mission.
Throughout this competition’s qualifying matches, the Cyber Knights earned three high scores of 233, 230, and 225 that qualified the team for finals.
The Cyber Knights entered the final matches in alliance with team 1519 Mechanical Mayhem of Milford, New Hampshire, and team 2067 Apple Pi Robots of Guilford, Conn. The Cyber Knights won the championship when their allied team finished with 256 points, a score that shattered regional records.
In addition to their regional champion title, FIRST awarded the Cyber Knights with their Chairman’s Award, an honor bestowed upon teams “who best embody the mission of robotics and set a precedent for other teams to follow,” according to FIRST.
This award qualifies the Cyber Knights for the World Championships in St. Louis later this month. In addition to a series of matches and competitions, the World Championships offer students access to an innovation fair, college planning information through their “Scholarship Row,” and student ambassador training.
The World Championships begin on April 22, combining three robotics competitions – FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship and the FIRST Lego League. This is the fifth year in a row that the Cyber Knights will compete with 600 teams from across the globe.
To comment on this story or to contact Taylor Hartz, email her at THartz@SouthingtonObserver.com.