Hastings Secondary College students have been invited to compete an international robotic competition in Houston, Texas after they placed third in the South Pacific Regional competition in Sydney.
The FIRST Robotics Competition is a large-scale robotics competition. FIRST is a not for profit charity founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.
The Hastings Secondary College’s Hastings Team 6508 was made up of students from both the Port Macquarie and Westport campuses.
The team also received the regional 2017 Rookie All Star Award at the Sydney event which was held from March 13 until March 15.
In Sydney they competed against teams from Australia, China, Taipei (Taiwan) and Brazil.
Year 11 students Samet Portakaldali and Theodore Howard along with Year 7 student Luke Aguilar competed in the event.
Samet said he signed up to the competition after being notified through school posters and signage.
He said on the last day of the holidays the group got together to plan the robot’s design.
As part of the competition teams build a robot to compete in a game.
Most teams have six weeks to complete their robot building.
However the 2017 competition’s game was announced from America in January while Australian school students were still on holiday.
As a result the students only had three weeks to build their robot to make the completion time of mid February.
Students under the guidance of staff put in a lot of extra hours after school and on weekends to brainstorm, design, prototype, build, program and to learn to drive their robot.
The 2017 game involved a a simulated, steam powered airship which came with certain challenges.
Theodore said one of the challenges they had to complete involved delivering balls representing fuel into a boiler to be converted into steam.
The students said there was a fabulous team atmosphere at the competition.
“Everyone was helping each other as well as being in a competition where you are versing each other,” Luke said.
“If someone’s robot broke or something happened you would still go and help them.”
The judges were impressed with The Hastings Secondary College’s Hastings Team 6508.
“This challenge is not an easy one for a rookie team but in the short time this team has been here they have definitely made their presence felt,” they said.
The students and staff are working hard in an attempt to organise passports, visas and to raise money for their trip at the 2017 FIRST Championships in Houston, Texas on April 19.
Samet, Theodore and Luke would all like to pursue a career in coding and robotics.