Staples robotics team takes on worlds

It’s the end of a three day competition on March 18, and the robotics team, i2r, anxiously waits for their name to be called. They’re at East Super Regionals and have been nominated for six awards. In order to qualify for Worlds, they need to win at least one.

Finally, the judges announce the winners of the last and most prestigious award, the Inspire Award. i2r is called, and nine robotics students are ecstatic. They have advanced to the World Championship for the third year in a row.

“We all were so excited to have qualified and can’t wait to go and compete with amazing teams from all over the world,” Luke Sauer ’18, a  builder  on  the  team,  said.

Out of the 4,000 teams worldwide, only 128 have qualified for Worlds. Ninety-eight of these teams are from the US, while the remaining 32 are from various countries, including Russia, Australia, China and France.

“I was extremely proud of the team,” coach Terry Sauer said.  “They’ve worked incredibly hard this year.”

i2r c­urrently works with FIRST, a non-profit organization created specifically to motivate students to become more interested in science and technology.

“I have always been interested in computer science and engineering, and when my brother [Peter Sauer] and I got a lego robotics kit we got hooked,” Luke said.  “After some research, we found FIRST, the organization that runs our current program.”

The team started in middle school as a FIRST Lego League (FLL) team, and then graduated to high school where it became a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team. However, building robots isn’t the only focus for teams associated with FIRST.

Earlier this year, on Halloween, the robotics team hosted a competition and fundraiser at Staples that raised over $3,000 for the less fortunate Haiti team that would not have been able to compete in Worlds without  financial assistance.

“Our team is extremely grateful to have made it to Worlds, and we are very excited to compete with the top teams from around the world,” co-captain Julia Schorr said. “We especially look forward to connecting with the FLL team from Haiti.”

i2r created a team in Bridgeport by working with the assistant principal of Bassick High School, Kathy Silver. They were able to raise $7,000 to get the Bridgeport team, named The Tech Lions, started.

“Witnessing their success as a rookie team has been an incredibly rewarding experience, and we have learned a lot from them as well  Schorr said.

Even as i2r continues to win competitions around the country, they are grounded by their awareness and appreciation of friendship.

“One of the things that makes our team successful is that we are all genuinely friends and are not hesitant to bounce ideas off of one another and collaborate,” Schorr said.  “We all understand that the real purpose of robotics is to learn, have fun and teach and support other students in the areas of STEM.”