On Sunday, March 12, Mercy's robotics team competed at the FIRST® Robotics competition in Waterbury, Conn.
The mission of FIRST® is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
The organization describes their robotics competion as, "combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology." Under strict rules, limited time and resources, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team.
"Robotics had a great weekend," shared Mercy mentor Buff Bachenheimer. "Our robot worked well, and we made it to the semifinals. We also won the Impact
Award, which is a great award. The girls' spirit and sportsmanship were impressive."
The FIRST® Impact Award is their most prestigous award. It honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST®. It is presented to the team judged to have the most significant measurable impact of its partnerships among its participants and community over a sustained period, not just a single build season.
In winning the Impact Award, the Tech Tigers have been recognized as demonstrating progress towards the FIRST® mission of transforming our culture, and earned an invitation to the District Championship.
Sangita Ray, science teacher and facutly advisor to Tech Tigers, shares how the team has been able to contribute to that transformation: "As a veteran team, we have mentored teams such as FRC 7694 at Northwest Catholic High School and FLL Saint John Paul II School. We also founded FRC 8167, the Coginchaug Cognitive, and we continue to mentor and provide programming and design guidance to them."
The Tech Tigers are committed to how their work can reach others. Ms. Ray notes that the team is dedicated to issues affecting girls around the world. "The TechTigers work to increase accessibility for women's education and to energize people worldwide about STEM."
Notably, the Tech Tigers have:
- succeeded in helping 89 girls in Ugandan refugee camps get uniforms and school supplies, as well as fund a year of their school fees.
- provided 40 Liberian girls with the information and resources to combat gender violence.
- raised money to support Indian women’s enrollment in programs to prevent underage pregnancy, child marriage, and STDs.
- participated in local community cleanup events.
- advocated for new STEAM-related classes at Mercy.
"We are proud to support a better future for all," Ms. Ray concludes, "and we are ready to bring our energy to the world."
Tech Tigers will next compete at the Western New England competition in Springfield.