SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta Robotics Team made a presentation to the Sparta Board of Education at the special budget meeting on Monday, May 1.  With team members, parents and district staff looking on several Sparta High School Students took their turn at the podium.

Principal Janet Ferraro introduced the program and senior Evan Marcino to begin the presentation.

Marcino thanked the board members and administrators for supporting the team and for the approval of the expansion of the Robotics Lab.  This would be echoed by all of the students.  Marcino, a member of team 5249C, said he enjoyed competing because it is “one mind against another mind and, while sports are fine, robotics is a whole other level.”

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Marcino told the group he had begun in Robotics I and knew “it was the path I wanted to pursue.”  As did the other students, Marcino recognized his teacher and coach Mark Meola.  Marcino will be attending University to study engineering.

“I owe everything to Meola and the program.”

Next was Jack Williamson who explained his team, 5249D, had won the Amaze Award for mechanical design.  “Robotics has exposed me to and cultivated my love for engineering,” Williamson said.

An eleventh grade student, Williamson intends to go to the Naval Academy for engineering.  He talked about the upcoming renovations.  He explained the new space will allow for more appropriate tools.  Now they only have rudimentary tools such as a mallet and chisel. 

 “Space has always been an issue.  The new space will be revolutionary for this program.”

The Amaze award is presented to a team that has built a competition robot that clearly demonstrates overall quality and solid mechanical design," Meola said."In this instance there were two mechanisms that were identified as outstanding. The first was a climbing mechanism that enabled their robot to lift itself completely off the playing field for bonus points.  It was the only robot out of 38 others that was able to achieve this.  The second mechanism was a unique, deployable stabilization  system that provided a high level of functional stability to the design during head to head competition."  

Sophomore Patrick McGurrin got involved with robotics in the Sparta Middle School.  “Robotics has taught me teamwork, designing and engineering concepts.”

He intends to “attend a United States military academy, either West Point or the Air Force, to serve my country.”

Senior Thiago Santos also acknowledged the importance of the expansion of the Robotics Lab.  “I’m actually upset that I’m graduating,” Santos said with a smile.

Santos said it is his first year in robotics but “it’s definitely been amazing.” 

“I’m a soccer player,” Santos said.  “This is completely different.  You don’t get to experience the frenetic environment of a robotics competition.” 

Santos was on the team, 5249E that earned Innovation Award and the Build Award this season. 

Santos said he will be studying computer science in the Air Force.

Julia Lopez explained she was surprised to learn she was the first girl to sign up for the [robotics] class.  She said she has been in Meola’s class all four years.

“It showed me what I wanted to do,” Lopez said.  “It allows for hands on application of physics and math concepts.”

Her team 5249C, also earned the Build Award.  Lopez will be attending Virginia Tech to study engineering.

Ferarro said, “I could not be any more proud of these students.”