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LIC teens move on to robotics world championship

Photos courtesy of RoboTigers

One group of tigers from Long Island City has shown that they are fierce and on the way to the top.

The robotics team at Queens Vocational and Technical High School called “RoboTigers” and their robot “Based-God Trap Love” became Regional Winners at last weekend’s NYC FIRST 15th Annual Robotics NYC Regional Competition & Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.

Becoming Regional Winners means the team, made up of 32 students from the Long Island City high school ranging from freshmen to seniors, will be heading to the FIRST World Championship on April 22 to 25 in St. Louis, Missouri.

“It was a great experience, I never expected it to be like that,” said Maricarmen Ramirez, a 15-year-old sophomore in her first year on the team who worked in creating the robot in 3D. “I met a lot of people and it was a lot of fun.”

Based-God Trap Love on the field.

The “RoboTigers” were one of more than 160 teams, including New York and international teams, to compete during the event that took place from March 13 to 15.

According to Peter Beninati, one of the mentors on the team, the team has grown from six students when it started a few years ago to over 30 this year. Beninati was a team member and student at the school when the team took home a win in 2009.

“Every year we’re growing,” Beninati said. “Winning in 2009 and going to competition as a student made me realize that every student should have the opportunity to be on the team and see what it has to offer.”

During the competition, students had to battle with their custom-built robots and try to come on top during specific challenges throughout the weekend.

“I wasn’t expecting [the win]. We had mixed emotions throughout the day. It was quite surprising that we were able to make it on top,” said ninth-grader Toma Suciu, who works as a programmer on the team. “It’s definitely an interesting experience and I’m able to take in all the information around me and hopefully apply that to a future career.”

Queens Vocational and Technical High School’s Principal Melissa Burg said she is proud to see how far the students went during the competition and sees the team building and problem solving as important aspects that the students will be able to carry with them even after graduating.

“I go to the matches and support them and get excited and I love to watch them get excited,” Burg said. “The joy on their faces when they win is amazing.”

The “RoboTigers” were not the only Queens team to move on forward; the “Steel Hawks” from Townsend Harris High School in Flushing won the Engineering Inspiration Award and will also be heading to the world championship.

The Long Island City students will also be heading to the 16th Annual SBPLI Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition on March 27 at Hofstra University.

“These students have worked so hard to get to the competition, from researching real-world programs to designing new inventions through robotics and using the engineering skills they’ve acquired,” said Pat Daly, executive director of NYC FIRST. “Year after year, we see the positive impact our programs have had on the lives of these students, and it’s beyond rewarding to see their excitement and passion develop with each season.”

NYC FIRST is the city-based nonprofit affiliate of FIRST, the international nonprofit mentoring organization created to get young people excited about science and technology.

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