Robotics Team Headed to World Championship

Outstanding performances at local competitions, regional tournaments and the North East Super-Regional Robotics Tournament in Scranton, PA has earned Suffern Robotics Team #7487 a berth at the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship Robotics Competition in St. Louis, MO next month.

This is the second trip to the World Championship for Suffern High School’s eight-year-old team. Suffern Robotics finished 24th in the world, out of 2,000 teams, in 2012. The team has placed second at the state level in both New York and New Jersey every year since.

The team is comprised of up to four squads, with a combined membership of 20-24 students annually.

A single spread from one of Team 7487’s two engineering notebooks provides a glimpse into the intricacies of the engineering design process that produced Edgar.

A single spread from one of Team 7487’s two engineering notebooks provides a glimpse into the intricacies of the engineering design process that produced Edgar.

“We are ONE team that runs three or four robots,” emphasized Suffern Robotics advisor and math teacher George Mugno. “It is essential that team members work together and encourage each other. So, if one robot wins, we all win.”

Edgar, Team 7487’s robot, sports student-designed and machined parts, infrared, gyroscopic and encoder sensors, an innovative forklift design and game strategy and complex programming. But it’s the meticulous documentation captured by seniors (and RP Connor alums) Sarah Pungitore and Kristine Stewart in the team’s two engineering notebooks that has wowed judges and earned Team 7487 the Think! Award at several tournaments.

National Art Honor Society member Saganisha Valow-Picarello helped bring Suffern Robotics’ mascot to life.

National Art Honor Society member Saganisha Valow-Picarello helped bring Suffern Robotics’ mascot to life.

In fact, design was a big part of Suffern Robotics’ success in another way this year. Senior Saganisha Valow-Picarello came onboard last fall as part of the National Art Honor Society’s outreach to other school clubs. Leveraging skills and talent developed through Suffern High School’s visual and performing arts programs, Valow-Picarello created an attention-grabbing mascot headpiece (which sits on a student-engineered shoulder mounting structure) to be worn at competitions, where team spirit is a component of the judging criteria. She’s headed to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in August, where she plans to continue her passion for art making and creating.

In fact, six Suffern Robotics members will be graduating in June and have earned more than $500,000 cumulatively in college scholarships. These soon-to-be-grads have been accepted to institutions including Binghamton University’s Presidential Scholars Program, Lafayette College, Northeastern University, Rochester Institute of Technology and SUNY Fredonia’s Cooperative 3-2 Program.

In addition to optimizing Edgar to compete against the top teams internationally, Suffern Robotics is working hard to raise the funds needed to cover travel expenses to the World Championship in April. For information, please go to http://suffernrobotics.org/sponsors/.