ROBOTICS TEAM CONTINUES ITS JOURNEY TO THE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
HOLMDEL, N.J. – Holmdel High School’s robotics team scored big at the Jersey Shore Showdown at Toms River North High School.
The team’s latest win was at the meet level, and they admit that they utilized this event as practice, since they have already secured a spot in the New Jersey State Championship on February 25 at a previous qualifier-level competition. The Holmdel team was the Winning Alliance 2nd pick team, and also got an award for Best Example of Alliance Teamwork. The next step (in the New Jersey league) is to go the New Jersey State Championship and qualify for the FTC East Super-Regional Championships in Scranton, PA from March 16-18, 2018.
Holmdel “Team Robotux” president, Jessica Kuleshov, added “We also have a qualifier in Maryland that, should we win it, will gain us a spot at the Maryland State Championship, which is another chance for us to qualify for East Super-Regionals.” In addition to the upcoming competitive events, Kuleshov also stated that the team plans to do some outreach projects with Holmdel’s technology education classes at William R. Satz Middle School to encourage students to consider joining the robotics team as they make their way to Holmdel High School.
When asked what makes the team so successful, Kuleshov admitted, “The team is a wonderful group of collaborative people, and you do not need to know anything about building, coding, or designing prior to joining; you learn everything as you go, and anyone who wants to learn something specific gets the chance to do so. Meetings themselves are quite laid back, but there is a lot of meeting time during the week, usually up to twelve hours or so between three meetings, and occasionally going up to 20 hours of meeting time the week of a competition.”
The robotics team’s future plans fall directly in line with the district’s recent investment in the “Holmdel 2020” initiative. Holmdel 2020 is a plan that will make significant improvements to the buildings and facilities at the schools in order to keep pace with the demands on the 21st century learning environment. According to the project’s vision statement, “The Holmdel 2020 Initiative will allow us to create a more appropriately flexible, student-centered, technology rich complex that will inspire and promote innovation at every turn, optimize the pace and focus of learning for all students and maintain our community’s commitment to excellence in academics, athletics and the arts.”
So how does this benefit the robotics team? As Kuleshov puts it, “Soon, with the Holmdel 2020 plan, we will be integrated within the school and will have space to work and it will be more accessible for high school students; as of now we are a non-profit, neighborhood-based team.” Plans include dedicated class space for engineering and other STEM-related courses. The team is also currently filling out a grant for creating the basic curriculum for an Introduction to Programming and Robotics course for the future. Although it is still in the infant stages of development, it will certainly fit in well as part of the Holmdel 2020 vision plan.
As a senior, Kuleshov would like to see her last year with the team be a successful one, but she would also like to see the program continue to build and grow, even after she graduates. To that end, she has been working closely with Caren MacConnell, Holmdel’s Supervisor of Technology, Engineering and Media Centers, on ideas for both the robotics spaces as part of 2020, and for the future robotics course. She also notes, “I want to do more outreach events so that our community knows that there is a fairly strong presence of STEM in their area which they should consider supporting, and I am looking for sponsorships to help our team financially in the future, because our team heavily relies on the donations of others to function.”
It is apparent that students like Jessica Kuleshov and her Team Robotux members, along with initiatives like Holmdel 2020, are helping to pave a brighter future for the students of Holmdel and for all those who will eventually be able to take advantage of everything that Holmdel High School has to offer as it strives to innovate and elevate in the 21st century and “beyond”, as Buzz Lightyear (a robot himself) might say.