Mount Everett robotics team makes strong showing in world championships


SHEFFIELD -- Mount Everett Regional High School's robotics club came up short of the world championships, but they learned an important lesson in their competition last weekend.

"Higgs Bot," the robot built by the Mount Everett club, bested teams from New York City, Connecticut, Virginia and Pennsylvania in the FIRST Tech East Super Regional Competition in York, Pa.

The robot's illustrious run was upended in the first round of the playoffs, but the team saw the silver lining: They knew they belonged with the best, and they expect to be back.

"Our robot was just as good as any robot there," said Chris Thompson, the club's adviser. Out of 72 robots there, there were 10 or 12 that were truly excellent and ours was one of them."

Following their win in the March state championships, Mount Everett finished in 27th place out of 72 teams at the East Super Regional Competition -- or two spots from advancing to the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship in St. Louis. The competition took place last Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Mount Everett could still compete in the world championships if two teams decline to travel and pay admission.

FIRST stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." Founded in 1989, the FIRST competition seeks to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders. Schools are charged with making a robot using a tool kit, and then teamed with other schools to perform an obstacle course, which requires the robots to dump blocks in bins, turn a crank, and other skills.

The team members are Ben Webb, Justin Makuc, Jake Christinat, Patrick Hogelin, Charles Kuzmech, Michaela Loring and Jordan Chretien. Juniors Kosta Casivant and Max Lowenstein are co-captains.

For the last two years, Mount Everett's robotics team has been part of the state championship team. Other schools had teams that were twice as large, but the Higgs Bot held its own, going on to a 5-2-1 performance in regular play at the regional competition.

Casivant said there was a moment when he thought the Higgs Bot would win the competition. And he said he was sure the robot would have done better if it was better paired with better robots.

In the playoffs, the Higgs Bot was teamed with two other schools. In their only playoff match, Mount Everett students beat out the Virginia state champion, but they failed to advance because their teammates were unable to win any of the other two matches.

"We got really bad luck with who we were paired with," co-captain junior Max Lowenstein.

Both team captains will be back next year, and they said they'll be better prepared.

"I think every year we have gone further than the year before," Lowenstein said. "I think that's a trend we plan to continue. Next year we will try to go to the world championships."

Casivant, a junior, said the robotics team has been one of the more memorable parts of his time in high school.

"Two-time state champion," he said, "it's a good thing to leave high school with." Casivant said.

To reach John Sakata:
or (413)-496-6240.
On Twitter: @JSakata


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