Hastings Secondary College team competes at FIRST Robotics Competition in Houston, USA

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An international robotics competition in America had been described by a Year 7 Hastings Secondary College Westport Campus student as being like a rock concert.

“The stadium was enormous, similar to a football stadium with big screens, video and music,” Luke Aguilar said. 

The Hastings Secondary College’s Hastings Team 6508 was made up of students from both the Port Macquarie and Westport campuses. The team competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition world championships in Houston, USA in April. 

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 overseas competition followed the team’s success in Sydney where they placed third in the South Pacific Regional competition.

Year 11 Hastings Secondary College Port Macquarie Campus student Samet Portakaldali said the Houston competition was very different to the competition in Sydney.

“The sheer size of the event was 10 times larger with over 3000 teams and 10,000 people,” he said.

“The competition was a lot more intense and all teams were scoring high as they had developed strategies from previous competitions.” 

Luke said while the competition was fierce the Hastings 6508 team shared strategies and collaborated with other international team members. 

The students said the competition encouraged graciousness including shaking of hands after matches and offering help or parts for damaged robots.

In Houston the team placed in the top 24 in the international event.

Samet said he enjoyed networking with experienced teams from around the world which were made up of people connected by their passion for technology.

The Hastings 6508 made alliances with international teams and partnered with APEX robotics, a USA team.

“Now that we are back in Australia we will be sharing ideas with APEX robotics to continually improve and learn collaboratively via videoconferencing,” Luke said. 

Hastings Secondary College executive principal Willem Holvast said the FIRST Robotics Competition will continue to be an outstanding learning partnership involving students, staff and parents.

“The program is an exceptional example of excellence, innovation, opportunity and success in practice.” he said. 

Mr Holvast said the students have returned ready to further their interest in the robotics program as part of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program.

He said the college fosters the development of innovative leaders of the future.

Samet said he has always had a passion for robotics, coding and engineering. He is planning to apply for entry into Mechatronics at Newcastle University. 

“Mechatronics is all about pursuing new frontiers to create smarter products, devices and processes,” he said.

Luke would like to pursue a career involving the engineering and design of robots.   


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