The Londonderry High School FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics team won the Chairman’s Award at the New England District competition Saturday at Northeastern University in Boston, and will go on to compete at the District Championships.
Team advisor Mike Pettengill said the Londonderry team, the PVC Pirates, was founded in 2003 and has won the Chairman’s Award once before, in 2012.
“It’s a very hard award to win and requires years of work and dedication, far beyond just building a robot,” he said. “The team does lots of outreach and mentoring of other teams and events. This is a true team award.
“To receive the award, students submit an essay, and then give a presentation about the team, focusing on our community outreach and promotion of FIRST in our community and abroad,” he added. “Our presentation was led by Kelly Plakyda, and co-presented by Jay O’Donnell and Dan Pleva. This award is the most prestigious award presented by FIRST and is a great honor to receive.
“The Chairman’s Award honors the team that, in the judges’ estimation, best represents a model for other teams to emulate, and which embodies the goals and purpose of FIRST,” he added.
According to Pettengill, the Chairman’s Award was created to keep the central focus of the FIRST Robotics Competition on the goal of transforming culture in ways to inspire greater respect for science and technology, and to encourage more young people to appreciate the life rewards and career opportunities in those fields.
One team at each of the nine district events receives the Chairman’s Award, which automatically qualifies the team to attend the New England District Championship held at Boston University April 10-12.
“We will compete there against the other nine entrants for one of four District Championship Chairman’s Awards (DCCA),” Pettengill said. “Winning a DCCA would qualify us for the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis at the end of April.”
The PVC Pirates also qualified to compete with their robot at the District Championships, giving the group a second opportunity to earn a spot to the World Championships.
“The robot is designed to shoot a 24-inch exercise ball through a large, oval-shaped goal seven feet off the ground, located at each end of the playing field.” Pettengill said. “Robots need to be able to pass the ball between each other, and shoot the ball over a 6-foot-high hurdle in the middle of the field.”
The robot was built by students from Londonderry High School along with the help of adult mentors. It was designed, programmed and built in six weeks, starting in early January.
Team captain is Brandon Zalinsky, and lead mentor is Mike Pettengill Sr.
Team members are: Chris Monks, Amy Nicole, Noah Carey, Luc Velie, Erin Janas, Dave Lawton, Tiffany Miller, John Burpeau, Kelly Plakyda, Brandon Zalinsky, Jay O’Donnell, Jack Magrath, Dan Pleva, Alex Peterson, Tim Meuse, Emily Agostino, Emily Dawson, Rebecca Fondo and Chase L’Heureux. Team mentors are Bobby Bisson, Kailey Martin, Jim Browne, Ted Monchamp, Joe Pleva, Pat Pettengill, Mike Pettengill Jr., and Mike Pettengill Sr.