Southeastern Robotics Team places at local competition

By Candace Hall

Five young students, who are in their first year of the Robotics Club at Southeastern Regional Voc-Tech High School, have received regional recognition at two different competitions.

The students — Peter Rushton of Easton, Andrew Elfman of East Bridgewater, Tyler Hanlon of Easton and Shane Doherty of Mansfield (all in Grade 9), as well as Ryan Kulas of Brockton (Grade 10) — competed in the Southeastern Massachusetts VEX Robotics Competition, at Bristol Community College, in December and January.   During the most recent competition, Peter placed first in the qualifying tournament, Tyler placed fifth, and Andrew placed 13th.  Andrew also made it to the semi-final round, which was just one notch short of competing in the championship round.

“They’ve worked really hard,” said their coach, Robert Wood, who teaches Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Southeastern.  “Our team is in a great place to continue next year because we have five really strong underclassmen who want to do well,” he said.

The students  learned robotics through the school’s 9/10 after-school program, which took place last fall, and has continued as an after-school club through this year.  They all built robots out of materials provided by the VEX Robotics, a nationwide program that encourages students to sharpen their STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and mathematical).  During the match, they maneuvered their robots to move foam stars and pillows under and over a gate, competing against other teams to score the most points.

“I’ve always liked building and programming, and this is very challenging.  I really like the matches because they’re fun, but also intense,” said Peter Rushton.

The team plans to compete in one more competition this year, and they are currently rebuilding their robots to use pneumatic technology, which uses air pressure.  Mr. Wood said the club is a great way for students to learn more about computer science, mechanical engineering and electronics, and to also keep up with the latest technology.