Local robotics team gears up for national competition

CLAYVILLE, N.Y.--During the time of day when most after-school activities have ended, one local high school robotics team continues to work late into the evening.

Posted: Mar. 13, 2018 11:42 PM
Updated: Mar. 13, 2018 11:51 PM

CLAYVILLE, N.Y.--During the time of day when most after-school activities have ended, one local high school robotics team continues to work late into the evening.

The members of Geared Up FTC 6347 drive from six different school districts to prepare for competitions. 

"We're meeting pretty much every day this week," Owen Buckingham, the build team manager said. "Right now, we're putting in definitely close to 30 hours."

That kind of work ethic earned the team top honors at the First Tech Challenge super regional competition last year, and sent them to St. Louis for an international tournament. They're eyeing another top ranking at this year's super regional in Pennsylvania, where they will face off against 72 other teams from the eastern half of the United States.

Because the team is not associated with any one school district, the team must raise the funds to cover entrance fees, robot parts and software. 

"We actually are a privately-funded team," Alexandria Burger, the team's captain said. "We do a lot of marketing and branding to get sponsorships, because we have to raise about $20,000 per season."

While the team is fundraising year-round, they also must design and craft their robot from scratch to perform a standard set of tasks for the super regional competition.

"We have an engineering notebook, which documents everything we do throughout the year," Burger said. "There's programming, there's building, so we like to call ourselves a company, like a family-run business and not just like a club or a team."

"I track a lot of our money coming in and out in order to fund tournaments and parts," Michael Bush, the team's financial manager said. "If you look at some of the higher-level competitions and it does get more expensive, but that's where the team members start to learn how to finance and how to make a budget."

The team also hosts outreach programs, spreading their knowledge of building to both local and international communities. 

"This year, our team has impacted about 17,000 people," Buckingham said. "We teach a lot of summer camps, so a lot of those kids at the summer camps, we had an impact on."

"This summer, we actually mentored a team from the Democratic Republic of Congo," Burger said. "We've continued working with them, so they're actually looking to help further STEM education in Africa." 

To follow the team's activities, you can visit their website here.

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