South Orangetown Central School District

Tappan Zee High School’s FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Team, SO BOTZ, competed in the DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE FIRST Championship Detroit April 24-27 for the second consecutive year. Just 408 of the nearly 8,000 FRC teams representing countries across the globe advanced to the tournament, which was held at the Cobo Center in Downtown Detroit. Last year, the team earned the Rookie All-Star Award at the competition.

SO BOTZ, also known as Team 6911, earned its way to Worlds as the defense bot on the winning alliance at the SBPLI Long Island #1 Tournament at Hofstra in late March. Sophomore Olivia Steger, the team’s software subteam lead and drive team technician, won a place at Worlds for her selection as a Dean’s List Award Finalist at the Hudson Valley Regional FRC Tournament at Rockland Community College a few days earlier. She and lead coach Karen Connell attended the Dean’s List Finalist Award luncheon in Detroit and met FIRST founder Dean Kamen.

Over the course of the four-day event, the team rose its highest ranking–15–during division qualifiers. Their competition robot, Cerberus, featured an eight-wheel West Coast tank drive with two-speed pneumatic gear shifting, a three-stage elevator lift with articulated grabber, and Limelight-powered, semi-automatic vision targeted tracking–all powered by Java code. Cerberus was created by team members who completely designed the robot using computer-aided design (CAD), fabricated 50+ parts using a CNC mill, X-Carve and 3D printers, and assembled the robot and wrote the programming code. Between matches, members also attended a slew of presentations and workshops and spoke with college admissions reps.

“Being part of the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in only our second year made us aware that with hard work, determination and a passion for learning, we can achieve our goals,” said Mrs. Connell. “In our final qualifying round, Cerberus climbed to the Level 2 HAB, accomplishing one of our season goals. Each member contributed to our team’s success: We had an unstoppable drive team, a skilled pit crew that worked well under pressure, a conscientious scouting team that analyzed all of our competition data, and a talented marketing team that networked with other teams, managed our social media feeds and ran our spirit section. In addition, we had excellent student leadership to help manage event tasks and competition decisions.”

FRC is an intense, year-round program that encompasses mechanical, electrical and software engineering, as well as the business operations typical of a startup company, such as accounting, communications and sponsor relations. Through students’ tireless fundraising efforts, SO BOTZ secured strong financial and in-kind support from Goosetown Communications, Linde, NASA, Orange & Rockland Utilities, D’Vine Hospitality and many local businesses–a FIRST requirement.

Over the course of the school year, team members have mentored the South Orangetown Middle School FIRST LEGO League team and actively promoted robotics, engineering and computer science at more than a dozen events, ranging from South Orangetown Day to the Lower Hudson Valley Engineering Expo, to expand the local tech talent pipeline.

“It’s special to work with new friends from every grade to build something bigger than ourselves that younger students can look forward to when they come up to the high school,” says Kevin Huang who serves as Project Manager, along with fellow senior Tommy Barrett. “The support I found here made the experience exciting and fun, and the attitude to always look for areas where we can learn and improve has invaluable.”

SO BOTZ members who competed in Detroit were: Tommy Barrett, Lucy Barsanti, Hrutvik Bhavsar, Finn Bolger, Chris Byrne, Nick Byrne, Nico Cabrera, Lawrence Choi, Paraic Coffey, Luke Corpina, Anthony Dominguez, Kevin Dominguez, Brendan Fuentes, Dan George, Joanna George, Billy Grippi, Alex Gottlieb, Alex Hludzinski, Alicia Hludzinski, Henry Huang, Kevin Huang, Giovanni LoPresti, Andrew Lugue, Maya Nair, Kayla Ng, Devin Nguyen, Dan O’Keefe, Jerrick Pajimna, Jude Paulemon, Sam Pomann, Tanishq Singh, Olivia Steger, Logan Tabor, Alvin Thomas, Jonathan Young and Eric Yuan. Team members were joined by coaches Mrs. Connell, Barbara Murphy and Marc Eckert, and mentors Joey Gottlieb, Vanessa Lapins and Jen Citrolo.

Robotics team photo Student, teacher and Dean Kamen