Steel Hawks take on Hofstra University

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Equipped with their robot, Red Tail, The Townsend Harris Steel Hawks competed in the 17th annual regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC) this past week.

The competition, held from March 30 to April 2, called the SBPLI (School-Business Partnerships of Long Island) Long Island Regional, took place at the Hempstead campus of Hofstra University.

FIRST, a non-profit organization based in Manchester, New Hampshire, motivates high school youths to pursue futures in science and technology fields. The host of this competition, SBPLI, awards promising students with internships, scholarships, and employment.

Similar to the recent New York City Regional competition held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, the tournament required teams to be grouped into two different alliances, the Red Alliance and the Blue Alliance. In a medieval-style competition area, teams cooperated to cross moats and launch balls into castle towers.

Competing teams ranged from Long Island and the New York metro area to as far as Brazil. The Steel Hawks, also known as Team 2601, ranked in 19th out of 51 places, with a record of 6-4-0.

The team participated in eight qualifying rounds before moving onto the quarterfinals, ending with six wins, four losses, and zero ties.

Robotics coach and AP Physics & Regents Physics teacher Joshua Raghunath is proud of the team members, commenting that “they performed well against higher caliber teams than [those] at Javits, the NYC regional.” Moreover, the Steel Hawks exhibited commendable sportsmanship, as they “assisted numerous other teams in getting their robots competition-ready.”

Teams are scored based on the effectiveness of their robot, their teamwork, and their determination.

Awards are given out for a team’s skill in engineering, which includes the technology and design of the robot. Additionally, musical theme and sportsmanship are taken into account.

Assistant Principal of Math, Science & Technology Susan Brustein stated, “The team accomplished some amazing procedural changes. This year, for the first time, they cut and designed their own [robot] parts using a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) device, which is phenomenal for the high school level.”

This competition was an opportunity for the team to test out its latest competition device, a grappling hook scaling device. It allowed Red Tail to grab onto the sides of a tower and lift itself up to place a ball in the goal.

With their season coming to a close, the Steel Hawks are already gearing up for the upcoming building and competition season.

Junior team member Mitchell Mu commented, “We must quicken our pace during build season next year and improve communication to build efficiently while implementing as many effective ideas [as possible that] apply to the game.”

Robotics President and senior Marcus Barbu stated, “What I personally hope is that the team keeps inspiring people, that we continue to have new team members who fall in love with engineering. We’ve had a lot of bad luck and some tough breaks, but I’ve never been so proud to call myself a Steel Hawk.”

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