88.9 WCVE Public Radio’s John Ogle talked recently to the FIRST Mech Tech Dragons who captured the highest honor at the Virginia regional FIRST Robotics event in Richmond last month. This win means they will compete, through Saturday, in the FIRST Robotics World Championship as one of eleven Virginia teams and four hundred of the best in the nation.
Sreekar Kandlakunta is in his second year on the team and along with other team members works to raise money to be able to build their robot and travel to the competitions. “Work on the robot never stops,” he said, “even after a victory there are things to be done.” He said they have improved the consistency and effectiveness of the catapult on their robot in the weeks between the Virginia Regional and the Championships.
Makenzie Neal, a senior, says she surprised herself. “To be honest, I was never an excellent STEM student but then being exposed to robotics I had access to the people who could teach me things and let me visualize them. I gained a better understanding of physics.” Ms. Neal loves her job on the team and shared that being involved in robotics is more than just the competition and building a strong robot. “It’s also about having a strong program in our school and getting to spread excitement and inspiration about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
DuPont is a longtime supporter and sponsor of FIRST Robotics in central Virginia. “DuPont recognizes the growing shortage of scientists and engineers in the United States,” says DuPont manager Mark Allen, who works as a mentor with the Mech Tech Dragons. “The experienced teams and mentors are very gracious with their time and the newer teams are learning from the more experienced teams,” he adds.
The Mech Tech Dragons earned their spot at the world championship by winning FIRST’s most prestigious prize, The Chairman’s Award, at the Virginia Regional in March. All of the teams had just six weeks to design and build remote controlled robots that could grab and toss large exercise balls through several goals. Sixty-five teams competed at the Virginia Regional at VCU’s Siegel Center in March and right now, four hundred teams from the US and 14 other nations are facing off for the world championship in St. Louis.
Good luck to all of Virginia's Robotics Teams at the Championship in St. Louis April 23-26!
The teams are:
- FIRST Team Sparky 384 - Tucker H.S., Henrico County
- FIRST Team Talon 540 - Godwin H.S., Henrico County
- FIRST Team Blue Cheese - Deep Run H.S., Henrico County
- FIRST Team Triple Helix - Menchville H.S., Newport News
- FIRST Team Cougar Robotics - Oakton H.S., Vienna, Va.
- FIRST Team Builders of Tomorrow - Franklin H.S., Franklin, Va.
- FIRST Team Iron FeNix - Landstown H.S. Governors STEM Academy, Virginia Beach
- FIRST Team Chantilly Robotics - Chantilly H.S. Chantilly, Va.
- FIRST Team Fresta Valley Robotics - Fresta Valley Christian H.S., Marshall, Va.
- FIRST Team ILITE Robotics - Battlefield H.S., Haymarket, Va.
Click here to learnmore about VirginiaFIRST Robotics.
Photos by: Bill Sigafoos for VirginiaFIRST