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Tewksbury Students Help Shawsheen Tech Robotics Squad Qualify For New Englands

Dec 11, 2014 06:06AM ● By Bill Gilman

COURTESY PHOTO: Front Row: Macayla Taylor (Tewksbury), Elisabeth Heghinian (Burlington), Cole Bugley (Tewksbury), Camdon Benoit (Billerica), Hayden LeBeau (Billerica) and Julia Gillis (Burlington). Back Row: Simeon Munsie (Wilmington), Joseph Taylor (Billerica), Nick Antonelli (Billerica), Carson Rosa (Tewksbury), Shawn Tsotsi (Burlington), Tyler Gylfphe (Tewksbury), Advisor Paul Blanchette Missing from photo: Shane Araujo (Tewksbury), Steven Wink (Tewksbury) and Adam DeVeau (Tewksbury)

Shawsheen Tech’s robotics team is annually one of the top high school programs in the state.

After only two competitions during the 2014-2015 school year, it looks like another banner year for the group known throughout the hallways of the school as the Robo Rams.

Recently, the Shawsheen squad competed against teams from Boston University Academy, Northeastern University as well as several other schools at an event in North Andover.  

This year, Shawsheen has two teams competing, a group of freshmen and sophomores along with a combination of juniors.

The juniors, a team that includes several Tewksbury students, won the competition, qualifying them to represent Massachusetts in the New England championship in March as well as the international CREATE tournament in Iowa in April. At the New England finals, the Robo Rams could qualify for a world championship competition in Kentucky.

 The Robotic Educational Council (REC) ranks Shawsheen’s veteran squad as one of the top 200 teams in the world.

The freshmen and sophomores reached the semifinals of the event.

Along with finishing first, Shawsheen’s veteran team had the distinction of receiving a trophy based on both design and workmanship and exceeding professional standards.  

The judging at these events is done by experienced engineers.

At competitions, teams are asked to design robots that are capable of accomplishing tasks like stacking blocks to a height as high as four feet.

“The competition was much more difficult this year,” said Paul Blanchette, the group’s advisor and a teacher at Shawsheen. “They wanted to make it a tougher challenge.”

Thanks to the commitment by Blanchette and his team, who often put in hours over the summer to prepare for these contests, the Robo Rams were able to handle the increased degree of difficulty without much trouble.

Members of the championship team included Cole Bugley (Tewksbury), Elisabeth Heghinian (Burlington), Steven Wink (Tewksbury), Joseph Taylor (Billerica) and Shane Araujo (Tewksbury). The team of freshmen and sophomores was comprised of Adam DeVeau, Jarrod Kimball, Julia Gillis (Burlington), Hayden LeBeau (Billerica), Carson Rosa (Tewksbury), Nick Antonelli (Billerica), Tyler Gylfphe (Tewksbury), Camdon Benoit (Billerica) and Shawn Tsotsi (Burlington) along with upperclassmen advisors Simeon Munsie (Wilmington) and Macayla Taylor (Tewksbury).

At the program’s first competition of the year in North Conway, N.H., the veteran team made it to the finals while the novice group ended up in the top third overall.

The teams still have plenty on their plates before the New England finals. 

They’ve been invited, for the second straight year, to attend a Providence Bruins hockey game in Rhode Island and show off their robot for fans at the game. They’ll also show their stuff at a local college.

To the victors, go the spoils.

“It’s a pretty big arena,” Blanchette said of the trip to the Bruins game. “They reserved us seats and we can go in and watch the game whenever we want.”


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