Robotics team receives $3K grant

The Plainville High School Robotics Program has received a $3,000 grant from the Petit Family Foundation to support the sustainability and growth of the high school’s robotics program, saod Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Steven LePage, who submitted the grant application, according to a press release from the schools.

“It is terrific to see our students thriving, competing and learning to problem solve collaboratively with others from their team alongside peers from around the state. I’m very proud of our team’s accomplishments and thankful to our students and advisors for their dedication to the Digital Devils. I am also most grateful to our sponsor groups because competing at a high level requires significant funding. Our recent $3,000 grant from the Petit Family Foundation will help the team to compete at an even higher level next year. My sincere thanks to the Foundation for their support of our program and students,” said LePage, according to the press release.

The “Digital Devils” Robotics team currently has 18 male and female students from grades 9-12. The group advisors are high school faculty members David Gaignard and Mark Chase. The Digital Devils group participates in the FIRST Robotics competitions throughout the year. FIRST Robotics Competition pairs high school students with adult mentors (primarily engineers and teachers) to design and build robots that compete against each other in a high energy environment. This varsity Sport for the Mind combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology, said the press release from the schools. Under strict rules, limited resources and time limits, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors.

Each January at the kickoff, a new, challenging game is introduced. These competitions combine the practical application of science and technology with the fun, intense energy and excitement of a championship-style sporting event.

In 2017, FIRST Robotics Competition will reach 85,000 high-school students representing approximately 3,400 teams. Teams come from nearly every state in the United States, as well as many other countries. FIRST Robotics Competition teams participate in 55 regional competitions, 80 district competitions, and 10 district championships. In addition, approximately 800 teams qualify to go to one of the two FIRST Championships which were held in April.

“The Digital Devils had another action packed year competing at both the Waterbury and Hartford events. When enrolled in Robotics at Plainville High School, students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills acquired to solve real world problems in a technical way. These challenges give high school students and their adult mentors the chance to collaborate and work together to solve a common problem. Students were once again able to design, engineer, construct and test a competitive robot capable of carrying out all of the challenges introduced by this year’s STEAMWORKS competition,” explained Chase, according to the press release.

Participants of all skill levels are welcomed and needed in both technical and non-technical areas in order to have a successful team. The press release said students who have the desire to learn, strategize, share ideas, talents, make new friends, and most importantly have fun are encouraged to join. The release said, being on the team also provides students with more opportunities to apply for various grants and scholarships provided by FIRST. “These competitions are not just about robots, they provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate highly desirable technical and life skills on a global level,” said Gaignard, according to the press release.

“In order to register and compete each year, there is a significant cost involved.  Without the help of community sponsors like the Petit Foundation, the Digital Devils robotics team would not be possible. Students would lose out on so many levels and opportunities, but because of these generous donations, this is not the case. As a team, we have already started to brainstorm about next year’s season. Conversation about what can be improved; the new technologies to incorporate and how to make the robot more efficient and effective are just some of the ways we are continuously trying to build an even stronger more successful team,” said Chase in the press release.

“Robotics has been something that has always interested and excited me. Unfortunately this program is very expensive and often times teams don’t always have the funds needed to participate to the best of their ability. Thanks to Dr. Petit’s help we are starting this upcoming season with less of a worry about money which will allow our team to focus more on building our robot. I cannot thank Dr. Petit enough for supporting our team,” said team member Raymond Moskus, according to the press release.

“I’ve been on the Robotics team since my freshman year, which was known as our ‘rookie’ year.  Since then, I have learned about team building and leadership skills that I used while being the senior captain this past season. Being on the Robotics team has also allowed me to experience some of the latest technologies used in Robotics. Because of my overall involvement with the team I have developed many skills that I hope will help me be successful in my future,” said Taylor Early, according to the press release.

“I am so proud of our Digital Devils who I have enjoyed seeing compete on numerous occasions. They are learning invaluable, real world problem solving and engineering skills with every competition. Many thanks to the Petit Family Foundation for their ongoing support of Plainville Community Schools initiatives,” said Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Maureen Brummett in the press release.

The goal of the Petit Family Foundation is to  continue to raise and distribute funds to fulfill their mission to help educate young people, especially those with interests in science, to help support those with chronic illnesses, and to help protect those affected by violence, said the press release.