Local High School Robotics Team Heads into Competition

March 18, 2010

Pickens County Team 2751, a member of the FIRST high school robotics competition, will compete in the Palmetto Regional Robotics Competition at Littlejohn Coliseum on the Clemson University campus on March 25-27. This year’s competition theme is Breakaway, a soccer-themed competition.

Established in 2008, Team 2751 is comprised of 15 students from four Pickens County schools: D.W. Daniel High, Easley High, Liberty High, and Pickens High. The students have a variety of career interests already ranging from mass media and graphic design to biomedical engineering and architecture. The team is part of FIRST a nationwide program that aims to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

The team notes that being able to make an idea come to life and making the robot work and do things is the most rewarding part of the FIRST robotics experience. As part of the Breakaway competition, the teams will maneuver their robots across a 27′ x 54′ field with alliance of three teams each attempting to score points through various obstacles.

The high school students are also heavily involved in recruiting younger students to join the robotics team once they reach high school. Through various outreach efforts like the Lego League, which targets kindergarten through eighth graders, the students are introduced to science and technology. The program hosted over 212,000 students nationwide in 2009.

“When I attended my first robotics competition, it wasn’t just the robots that got me hooked. It was the fact that teams could leave their robots and go to lunch without worrying about sabotage and if a team needs help, other teams rush to be the first to offer their assistance. I knew I needed to be a part of that environment,” said Team 2751 captain, Curtis Todd.

Businesses sponsor the team by mentoring the students and donating money and parts for the robotics system. This year’s sponsors include Sealevel Systems, Inc., U.S. Army, Advance SC, Blue Ridge Electric Co-Op, Duke Energy, Mad Science of Clemson, Mountain View Medical Imaging, QTRCO, School District of Pickens County, South Carolina Department of Education, CSI, Inc., and Trophies Unlimited.

“After one meeting, I realized they knew a heck of a lot more than I did about these robots, so I changed my title to ‘Mentor in Training’,” said Tom O’Hanlan, president and CEO of Sealevel Systems, Inc. “Honestly, it’s a lot of fun watching them solve real problems and challenges.”

O’Hanlan’s company, which develops hardware and software to enable computer connectivity and control, provided the students with full access to their engineering and marketing departments. From solving engineering problems to developing a website and promotional materials, the students maintain control over every aspect of their robotics system and team brand.

Keep up with the latest news and accomplishments from Team 2751 or follow their story on the Sealevel blog.

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and more than $12 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) for 9 to 14-year-olds (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada), and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious Professionalism™ is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.