Robotics Team WATT NXT Going to World Championships in St Louis

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From Rowena Carlos for WATT NXT:

Robotics Team 7350, WATT NXT advances again!  This past weekend Team WATT NXT competed among 72 of the best teams from the east coast for a spot in the FTC World Championships.  The team was one of 25 teams qualified to move on to compete with other US super-regional tournament winners,  as well as the best international teams from over 80 countries around the globe.

By winning the Connect Award at the FTC (First Tech Challenge) East Super-Regionals in Scranton PA the team qualified to participate in the 2014 - 2015 FTC World Championship to be held at the Union Station in St. Louis, Missouri. The World championships will be held between April 22 - 25, this year. 

Team 7350, WATT NXT, is a First Tech Challenge Robotics Team based in Middlesex County, New Jersey.  Composed of members spanning Grades 6 to 9 from Edison and Metuchen schools , this team is determined to spread enthusiasm for the fields of STEM education and robotics everywhere. This year, the team is focused on broadening the reach of FIRST robotics to encompass those students with disabilities.  The team aspires to "Take robotics where it has never gone before."  Team Captain, Jack Ryan, expresses, "Robotics is a sport for the mind, not just the body." This quote exemplifies the team's belief that any person can think and innovate, regardless of medical condition or disability.


The team is on their way to achieving their goals with an outreach program to bring the love of robotics to all children. The team welcomed Sparsh Shah it's newest member.  Wheelchair-bound Sparsh who is CAD-savvy had the following comments on joining the team, "You know, I've always been interested in robots since I was little so I'm really pleased to join the team, It means a lot for me to be part of the teams outreach efforts for kids with disability". "I have always marveled at many of the ways Robotics is used for, not just in competitions like this one but also in the real world, such as drones. I think personally that Robotics is just another form of Art, in which the result is three-dimensional rather than two-dimensional. And since anyone can make a masterpiece and there are many forms of it, I also think that Robotics can be pursued by anyone. To me, Robotics is just another way to express your creativity, where the sketch is the CAD designing, the paint is the programming and software, the paintbrush is the parts, and the panting is the final robot."

The team won the Connect award at the FTC East Super Regionals in Scranton, PA. This prestigious award is given to the team that the judges feel "connects with their local and engineering community. The best team is more than the sum of its parts, and recognizes that their schools and communities play an essential part to their success".  The team that receives this award is recognized for helping their local community understand FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), the FIRST Tech Challenge, and the Team itself. Watt NXT member Parth Salva has this to say, "Winning the Connect Award was very exciting and put the team one step closer to our goal of changing FIRST".

Mentored by Coach James Carr, and Dr. Gregory Ryan, WATT NXT members are all dedicated to further expanding their knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.  They collaborate with each other to achieve their goals, not only in building a successful robot, but also to achieve their team vision. The team often works with professionals in the fields of STEM and Robotics as mentors who can teach them new skills and guide them in their robot-building projects. This year, the team also sought out help from those who can aid them to fulfill their vision of changing FIRST by increasing participation of disabled kids.  By reaching out to pharmaceutical company, PTC Therapeutics and the dedicated staff and volunteers at the Parent Project for Muscular Dystrophy, they were able to learn more about Muscular Dystrophy, and other disabling medical conditions. Team programmer Vishal Sriram commented, "Sky is not the limit, there are footprints on the moon. With robotics increasingly bridging the gap between the physical and digital worlds, our work with professional scientists and engineers, our mentors at PTC Therapeutics and PPMD, has allowed us to improve our approach and come up with new ideas to incorporate into our design and outreach. Our mentors are a key part in the success we have enjoyed in designing our robot and in my daily life as well".

In addition to their outreaches in the field of robotics and STEM, the team is also connecting with international schools through Schools without Borders, an international program of cooperative education where kids inspire each other to learn with open minds and open hearts.  On the local front, the team broadcasts their mission on Radio Zindagi by sharing their experience about Robotics and encouraging other children especially in the Tri-State Area (NJ, NY and CT) to be involved in Robotics. During the radio show, the team discusses their odyssey in robotics, technology, learning and their involvement with the FIRST organization (USFIRST.org).

Coach Jim Carr and Dr. Ryan are very proud of the team's victory.  The team's slogan 'SAY WATT' was heard resonating often during the competition, the team responds with a bellowing "WATT!".  As per a tradition, each team member proudly wore their team t-shirt to school the day after competition and explained to classmates and teachers the various aspects of their competition, outreach, and victory of advancing to the highest level of the FTC competition this year.

Individuals and organizations wishing to learn more or to contribute to WATT NXT may contact the team at www.wattnxt.org or email the team at info@wattnxt.org.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to helping young people discover and develop a passion for robotics, science, engineering, technology, and mathematics. This organization consists of more than 130,000 Mentors, Coaches, and Volunteers from more than 80 countries. 

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