WAYNE, NJ – JDroids, a Wayne Robotics Club for teenagers, who last year competed in the state championship and qualified to compete in the World Championship is looking to qualify again. Part of their year-long competition is community outreach and education. This year, the JDroids team is volunteering at the Wayne Boys and Girls Club, sharing their knowledge of engineering, and coding.
“This is the future, so we might as well teach kids about it,” said Jim Giotis, one of the adult team leaders who was present with six JDroids members at the Boys and Girls Club on Wednesday for the kickoff of the program.
Jim’s son Demetri is a leader on the team, having been with JDroids for four years. “We are providing a Robotics Club, where we teach kids from fourth grade through middle school about robotics,” he said. “Including the building of the kits, the programming, the different kind of sensors and what they do, and a general overview of what robotics is like for the JDroids Team, but on a smaller scale.”
“We are here for one hour every Wednesday for six weeks,” said Miriam Goz, who is a Junior and has been a part of JDroids for three years.
The FIRST Robotics Competition is a global competition with local clubs competing in local events, looking to qualify for the state championship, where only ten teams will then qualify to compete in the World Championship.
There are different levels at the World Championship. JDroids competes in the FIRST Tech Challenge which is for kids aged twelve to eighteen.
Last year, the Wayne club qualified for the world championship which is the pinnacle of their success so far. They traveled to Detroit to compete with teams from all over the world. “There were teams from Taiwan, Italy, Israel, Turkey, all over,” said Jim Giotis.
“We ranked in the top third in our division,” said Sakshi Lende who has been on the team for four years. “We were also nominated as one of five finalists for the Think Award, which is in recognition of having a really detailed engineering notebook.”
There were one-hundred and sixty teams at the world championship in Detroit, which was held at Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions play. “The competition has gotten so big that half the teams competed in Dallas and half competed in Detroit,” said Jim Giotis. “Over 70,000 people showed up in Detroit for the event.”
Here in Wayne, Daniel Sasso comes to the Boys and Girls Club for their afterschool program and Jumped at the chance to join the Robotics club. “I love to build Legos and I love to code stuff and use electronics,” he said.
Dylan Rubis, who also joined the club, was asked if he wanted to be involved in robotics for a job when he grows up. “Yes,” he said with a smile. “Because, I like building and I like to draw.”
JDroids has other community outreach events planned, including a trip to Wayne’s Bristal Assisted Living to provide a demonstration for the senior residents there. However, the Boys and Girls Club is special for one of the team members. “I used to come to the Boys and Girls Club all the time when I was younger,” said Demetri. “I used to get so much out of this place, that I feel the need to give back to them, and because of my knowledge of Robotics, this is the best way I can.”
On March 15, the team will be competing in the state championships, hoping to earn a repeat visit to the World Championships.