A.W. Beattie’s award-winning FIRST Robotics team kicked off its season in January at Penn State Greater Allegheny.
The Bulldogs compete as Team 2051 in FIRST, which is an international organization for high school students who compete in tournaments and can earn scholarships and real world experience in engineering robotics weighing more than 100 pounds made from scratch.
A.W. Beattie will look to build upon last season’s successes, which included winning the Steel Showdown Tournament Championship, earning the regional Industrial Design Award and team captain Ben Marcouiller winning the Dean’s List Award and a trip to FIRST’s World competition in Detroit.
“I can’t wait to get started, but it’s also bittersweet because it’s my last year,” Ben, a Hampton senior in the Robotics Engineering program, said. “I’d really love for our team to win a regional championship, which would be the first in team history. If we did that, we’d go to worlds.”
Team 2051 will need as many skilled members as it can get to have a chance to go to worlds.
Hampton senior MJ Posadas is in the Computer Systems Technology program and will be a lead programmer for the FIRST team.
“I think the most important thing is how fun this is, and it really challenges me, which I enjoy,” MJ said. “It really is like real-world engineering working with other people. You get to develop communication and leadership skills, too. There’s a lot of teamwork required.”
A.W. Beattie’s roster of 25 students learned at the kickoff event what this year’s competition will entail, and the team will strategize its approach for several weeks before building a robot for competitions, which begin in February.
“This is an amazing experience, and I want people to see it the same way as me after three years on the team,” Ben said. “You learn a lot, and you make connections with people. I’ve met with the CEO of Google and the Dean of Yale, so the people you meet and the experiences you get are incredible.”
Students from other programs may join the team, which is run like a small business with some students working on robotics, programming and engineering and others in marketing, finances and graphic design.
Last year, our team definitely got recognized, and we have earned more respect from other teams,” Ben said. “We’ve also developed relationships with other teams, and now that they know more about us hopefully we only keep getting better.”