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Robotics Team Heads To Worlds — And Helps World

Westport’s i² robotics team is going to the world championship.

That’s great news for the 9 Staples High School students, who designed, built and programmed an actual robot. This year’s challenge involved a mountain rescue. The  i² crew racked up points by forming alliances to reset mountain beacons, deliver mini-rescue climbers to a shelter, and simulate other outdoor-type stuff indoors — robotically, of course.

It’s also good news for anyone who realizes that a good chunk of our global future will depend on men and women who have honed their engineering skills, are inspired to innovate, and can think both logically and creatively.

i2’s robot, named “Aether.”

We wish the  i² robotics team good luck on April 27-30, when they compete for the First Tech Challenge world title in St. Louis.

But that’s not what this post is about.

One of the mottos of FIRST — the non-profit organization that offers mentor-programs like robotics — is that it’s about more than just robots.

The Westport team has taken that to heart. A major mission is to reach out locally — and further — to teach and support other students, in the areas of STEM (science, technology, education and math).

Earlier this year,  i² helped Bassick High School in Bridgeport form their own team. i² raised $7,000 for the Tech Lions. $3,500 came from Westport’s Sunrise Rotary Club.

The Westporters have met with their nearby counterparts several times, helping them prepare for competitions. It worked: the Tech Lions advanced to the state championships, where they captained the 3rd-place alliance and finished 5th after qualification matches.

i² co-captain Julia Schorr calls the partnership “incredibly rewarding.” And, she says, “we learned a lot from them as well.”

Staples’ i2 robotics team and the Bassick Tech Lions, working together.

The Westporters also hosted a scrimmage and fundraiser at Staples. They collected over $3,000, plus 4 FIRST Lego League kits. That enabled a Haitian organization to run a championship, and send a team to the FLLL World Festival in St. Louis.

i² and the Haiti group look forward to meeting in St. Louis.

Staples and all of Westport should be inspired by  i². Robotics leaders already are.

At the regional championship in Scranton, Pennsylvania in March,  i² won the Inspire Award. It’s a major honor, given to the team that’s the best role model for others.

And that’s something that no robot could ever do.

The i2 robotics team. They’re not usually so serious.

(Team members include Ben Davis, Theo Davis, Annie Gau, Joe Montuoro, Greg Preiser, Luke Sauer, Peter Sauer, Julia Schorr and Phoebe Spear. To learn more about the i² robotics team, click here. For a recap of the Connecticut state championship, click below.)

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