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BOCES' New Vision Students Take Second in Tech Competition

YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- Four students from the New Visions Engineering Program at Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES placed second in the Hudson Valley FIRST Tech Challenge.

The event, held at Pace University in Pleasantville, challenged 36 teams from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The competition allows for high school students to design and build robots using aluminum, polycarbonate, motors, sensors and other materials. Once the robot is built, the teams then compete in different challenges using their newly assembled bot.

The four-person team took second place for designing and piloting a robot that could push a six-pound bowling ball up an incline.

“I installed a boost into the joy stick, so the pilots could use it to get the robot and the bowling ball up the incline,” said Horace Greeley senior Matthew Drucker.

The rest of the team consisted of Hendrick Hudson seniors Sam Melnik, Jasper Syrig and Steven Ruotolo.

Two remotes the students used broke because their motors burned out, starting the team off doing poorly in two phases of the competition.

“Team work was the most important thing that contributed to us doing well,” Drucker said. “The communication between the coach and the pilots was key.”

Drucker acted as coach, and Ruotolo was the pilot.

“I’ve been in Robotics programs before, and this is one of the best. We get hands-on experience here that we can apply later, and we are doing exactly what we want to do," Ruotolo said.

In addition to Tech’s New Visions engineering team, a team of students from Tech’s Introduction to Engineering class also entered the competition, placing eighth out of 36 competitors.

Tech teachers Carlo Vidrini, Michael Rattner and Gerry Markel began working with students on their robots in the fall, often coming in on weekends and after school.

“This was an absolutely tremendous accomplishment,” said Tech Center director Cathy Balestrieri. “The time teachers and students spent over and above class time working to prepare for this event really paid off.”

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