County rookie robotics team goes into fundraising frenzy

County rookie robotics team goes into fundraising frenzy

(April 18, 2014) After earning top honors at two regional competitions, Worcester County’s rookie robotics team is in a fundraising frenzy for an international contest next week.

Team Titanium-Wrecks members, from left, Ben Jolley, Daryl Deeds and Tyler Jenkins work on their robot “Buttercup” during the Chesapeake Regional FIRST Robotics competition at College Park last weekend. (Photos courtesy of Team Titanium-Wrecks)

Team Titanium-Wrecks, comprised of 19 high school students from across the county, earned its spot at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) global championships in St. Louis April 23-26 after a great showing at two regional competitions this spring.

Competing against around 50 teams, many with more than 100 members each, Team T-Wrecks walked away from a Fairfax, Va. competition in March with the “Rookie All Star” award, earning a spot at the global championships.

In what team mentor Paul Suplee described as a “Cinderella story,” the team and its robot Buttercup (named for some creative use of butter trays in the design) took home the “Rookie Inspiration Award” a week later from a College Park contest, where they also advanced to the final round of competition.

“We made it into the finals as a rookie team, which is unheard of,” Suplee said. “Those are all three big milestones for a rookie team.”

FIRST robotics hosts the contest each year, challenging robotics teams across the globe to build a machine worthy of competition in just six weeks.

This year’s aerial assist challenge pits two teams of three robots each against each other in a high-flying contest, where they try to pass, block and ultimately shoot two-foot yoga balls into a five-foot-high goal. Team T-Wrecks decided on a defensive design with Buttercup, which uses jointed arms to block shots up to 9 feet in the air.

In addition to repairs needed after two weeks of competition, the team is working to fund its trip to the championships next week, which will run it $15,000.

Members are going door-to-door, accepting donations online and hosting a fundraiser as Rommel’s Ace Home Center on 68th Street in Ocean City this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. to meet their goal.

As of Wednesday, the team had raised $8,300 of that goal, which includes the paid $5,000 entry fee for the FIRST championships.

“These kids have been working really hard,” Suplee said. “We’re going to make it happen.”

Visit the team at Ace Hardware on 68th Street tomorrow from 8 a.m. to noon to earn a 10 percent-off coupon for a donation of $5 or more. Learn more about Team Titanium-Wrecks and donate online through PayPal at www.team-t-wrecks.org/home.html.

Visit www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc for more information about the FIRST Robotics Competition.

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