2012-03-16 / Community

Riot Crew advances to next level of competition

The robotics team from South Portland won first place in a recent regional match. (Courtesy photo) The robotics team from South Portland won first place in a recent regional match. (Courtesy photo) South Portland High School’s FIRST Robotics Team, The Riot Crew, won first place at the BAE Granite State Regional match, and now aims to take the title at the championship in St. Louis April 26 to 28.

The FIRST Robotics Competition partners professionals with high school students to solve an engineering design problem in an intense and competitive way. In 2012, more than 50,000 students are involved on more than 2,300 teams from 11 countries to compete in 59 regional competitions across three countries. Competitions play out like high-tech spectator sporting events, building the students’ skills in problem solving, brainstorming, teamwork and project-focused work.

Beginning in September, the South Portland Riot Crew met for training and teambuilding. In January, all FIRST teams received this year’s game description and rules along with their shipment of parts that included batteries, motors and a PC. Each team had six weeks to design and build a robot capable of shooting baskets and performing the other game functions and then learn how to operate it.

The next challenge for The Riot Crew is raising funds for their trip to St. Louis to compete in the FIRST FRC Championship. An estimated $35,000 must be raised for travel and competition in eight weeks. Along with Fairchild Semiconductor, which has sponsored the team all year, other local businesses are being asked for their support.

Patrick Perkins is a South Portland High School and Riot Crew alum. While completing his freshman year in college, he has come back to South Portland to mentor the current team. He has first-hand knowledge of the impact of the program.

“I know people in college at some of the best engineering schools in the northeast that are training to do things that I’ve already done through FIRST Robotics. I’ve learned programming, advanced engineering concepts, reading electrical schematics, team building, some forms of calculus and more,” Perkins said. “Championships is a huge goal not just because of the thrill of going to compete again, but because of what it means. It tells us that all of our hard work, dedication, long hours and willingness to learn has had more of a payoff than you can even imagine.”

Winning the Championship title would come with perks, including the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., and demonstrate the robot for President Obama.

To sponsor The Riot Crew as an individual or organization, contact Shay Bellas at 632- 8471.

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