OSSINING, N.Y. – Members of the O-Bots, a robotics team from Ossining High school, had more than a few nervous moments at a recent regional competition, but they walked away with heads held high -- and several big awards under their belts.
The O-Bots were among 48 teams from New York and New Jersey -- and seven countries -- that participated in the Hudson Valley FIRST ® Robotics competition at Rockland County College in Suffern last weekend.
According to one of their mentors and teachers, Mark Scinta, the O-Bots made it through the initial qualifying rounds but were not picked by any of the top eight scoring teams to be part of an alliance.
However, the judges did make the team a “reserve," Scinta said. This meant they were back in the game if one of the eight teams’ robots should happen to break down. Fortunately for the Ossining high-schoolers, one did.
The O-Bots went on to help the alliance win the quarter-finals and the semi-finals. It was in very last leg that the O-Bots, aka Team 4122, got eliminated, Scinta said.
However, the team still snagged the Regional Engineering Inspiration Award, which qualifies it to go on to the FIRST ® Robotics World Competition in St. Louis next month.
Scinta said the O-Bots won that award because the team had been “instrumental” in helping establish the Hudson Valley regionals themselves. The O-Bots also won the FIRST ® Dean’s List Finalist Award and were ranked 20th as a regional finalist.
Scinta said Tuesday that there are a few kinks to work out before the O-Bots can decide if they will take part in the international challenge.
The O-Bots are taking part in another FIRST ® regional competition set for this weekend at Hofstra University.
Scinta, team advisor and science teacher Doug Albrecht and mentors Ken Ocheltree, an IBM research scientist, and David Earle, an Ossining High School alumnus, and engineer, all said they were proud to see how far the O-Bots have come.
“These kids are our future problem-solvers,” Albrecht said. “Aside from tremendous hands-on learning and real-life STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills implementation, they learn teamwork, persistence, and how to cope with setbacks.”
Scinta agreed that it is more than just robotics, calling it an incredible experience.
Sponsoring the O-Bots were Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, IBM, Entergy, Otocast, the school district, and numerous local businesses and individual families.