The technical wizards who comprise Huntington High School’s robotics team are ready for action. The competitive season gets underway across the world on Saturday as thousands of teams participate in FIRST Robotics Competition’s kickoff event.
Huntington’s powerful squad includes a mix of seasoned veterans and newcomers. Many of the program’s alumni who are now attending college have returned during the intercession between semesters to pitch in and help current team members prepare for the season.
Technology teachers Brian Reynolds and Omar Santiago are the team’s faculty advisors. Jennifer Mosden is a parent volunteer with the group and retired Huntington teacher Edward Parry also donates his time to the team. A large parent association provides additional support.
Huntington techology teacher Brian Reynolds.
Just as enthusiastic as their predecessors who helped found the robotics program in 2013 and help it repeatedly win honors and reach the world championships, this year’s team members are a highly motivated set of teenagers.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) encourages young people to pursue careers in engineering and science by showing them how interesting and fun those fields can be. Huntington’s robotics squad is formally known as FIRST Team 5016. The designation has become easily identifiable among competing schools across Long Island and the state.
Like teams across the world, Huntington must build a highly capable and functioning robot over a six week period and then compete in a series of competitions that serve as qualifiers for the world championships, which will be held April 25-28 at the Cobo Center in Detroit.
Huntington’s kickoff event on Saturday will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Team members, parents, sponsors and district officials will gather in the high school auditorium for the “game reveal” of FIRST POWER UP, which is this year’s international theme. The 2018 competition is expected to include 90,000 students spread across 3,600 teams.
Once full game details are announced, Huntington Robotics team members will begin brainstorming ideas concerning the robot they will construct. “The team will be focused on possible robot designs and game specifics, which could help lead us to success,” said junior Luke Farrell, who heads the team’s marketing efforts.
This year’s team is led by a group of bright students, including Tim Low (team captain), Matt Wildermuth (vice-captain), John Riley (chief technology officer), Lindsay Saginaw (chief of business operations), Matt Gennarelli (treasurer) and Jennifer Low (secretary).
The team’s technical leaders include David Mosden (head mechanical technician), Luke Eidle (head electrical technician), Ty Williams (head programmer), Katie Riley (head of CAD), Levi Leach (head of statistical strategy) and Foster Sullivan (safety captain).
Huntington Robotics’ business leaders include Isabella McGinniss (head of promotions), Luke Farrell (head of marketing), Abigail Holmes (head of outreach) and Nolan Piccola (head of awards).
Huntington Robotics has made a name for itself since its inception in 2013. It has gone to the World Championships several times and has gained significant support from corporate sponsors and others in the community. District officials have also supported the program, through budget appropriations and with attendance at the team’s fundraising events and competitions.
The team hopes to have its best season yet in 2018. It’s also expanding its community outreach efforts, assisting with the FIRST Lego League teams at Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School and participating in numerous other events around the district and town.
Huntington Robotics plans to make a strong play for the Chairman’s Award at the Long Island regionals in March at Hofstra. Award recipients earn a berth in the world championships. The application process includes submitting an essay and video and making a formal presentation to a panel of judges.
As the Huntington team preps for the start of the competitive season, both students and faculty advisors are excited about what lies ahead.
“How great it is when all the different ideas and thoughts start streaming through our brains as thousands of lights bulbs are lit one by one,” Mr. Santiago said. “Eyes are lifted as well as smiles. What a feeling it is to have when you look out into the audience and you can really see how robotics is really impacting our community in a powerful way.”
Interested in attending the kickoff event on Saturday and learning more about the robotics program? Visit https://goo.gl/H4C1zK.
(Luke Farrell, a Huntington High School junior who heads the robotics team’s marketing efforts contributed reporting for this article.)