Tri-County students advance to finals of international Zero Robotics competition
Tri-County juniors Nick Schickle, of Plainville, Thomas Vagnini, of Medfield, Shawn Toubeau, of Medfield, Carlton Perkins, of Medway, and Kevin Kohls, of Millis, will compete in the finals of the international Zero Robotics competition on January 16.
Five students in the Engineering Technology Program at Tri-County RVTHS will compete in the finals of the international Zero Robotics competition to be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on January 16.
Tri-County juniors Nick Schickle, of Plainville, Thomas Vagnini and Shawn Toubeau, both of Medfield, Carlton Perkins, of Medway, and Kevin Kohls, of Millis are the only Massachusetts students to make it through to the finals.
The competition was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Space Systems Laboratory and astronaut Greg Chamitoff in 2009. The goal was to open research on the International Space Station to groups of secondary school students. Participants must program robots known as SPHERES, or Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellites, to solve an annual challenge. After virtual competition, finalists are chosen to compete in a live championship. An astronaut aboard the Space Station conducts the competition in microgravity while students watch a live broadcast.
In previous years, there were separate competitions for students in the United States and students in other countries. This year, nearly 180 teams from Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States participated in one international competition.
After two rounds of competition, the remaining teams were divided up into “alliances,” with three teams competing as a group. The Tri-County team was paired with teams from Sweeny, Texas, and Cluj-Napoca, Romania, for the alliance round. Their alliance came in fourth out of a field of 28 and was among 14 groups chosen to compete in the finals on January 16. European students will compete at a site in Denmark, while students in the U.S. will compete at MIT.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for these eleventh grade Engineering Technology students to utilize their high-level computer skills and collaborate with their peers both nationally and internationally to solve problems of interest to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, MIT, and NASA," said Superintendent-Director Stephen Dockray.
Competitions, such as Zero Robotics, give students in Tri-County’s Engineering Technology Program the opportunity to apply their STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) toward solving a real world problem. Students also participate in “High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware,” or HUNCH. Through this program, students are given the opportunity to fabricate materials and experiments for use on the International Space Station.
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