YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Hotshot Hotwires, a team of seven middle and high school students, won the first-place award in programming at FIRST Championship in Detroit, Mich., held April 25-28. The team competed against more than 100 top teams from more than 40 countries. Only five teams from the United States won top awards at the competition, and Yorktown-based Hotshot Hotwires was one of them.

Members of the Hotshot Hotwires are Ayushmaan Aggarwal, Niharika Bhattacharjee, Raka Bose, Anuj Kapoor and Elina Rani from Yorktown and Aadi Bhattacharya and Deepta Gupta from Valhalla.

The team earned a spot at the World Championship after winning the Hudson Valley  FIRST LEGO League (HVFLL) Championship, a robotics and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) competition.

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After three rounds of competition, with about 130 teams from the Hudson Valley region, the team won the Robot Performance Award and the overall 2017-18 Hudson Valley FIRST LEGO League Regional Championship.

The Hotshot Hotwires has also been nominated to the FIRST Global Innovation Award competition based on its research project. The project aims at mitigating the problem of fresh water contamination from road salt. More than 30 million tons of salt are applied on U.S. roads every year. It can leach into both ground and surface water creating a health and environmental hazard. The team came up with a two-part, patent pending solution. The first one is to partly substitute salt with other materials. The second part of their project is to improve the efficiency of salt spreaders using gyroscopic sensors and RFID technology to combine road geometrics data with existing automation in the spreaders.

While working on their research project, Hotshot Hotwires consulted with Dave Paganelli, highway superintendent for the town of Yorktown, who helped the team understand the details of snow and winter road management in the town. Hotshot Hotwires also interviewed experts from Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Ossining Water Treatment Plant, New York State Department of Transportation, University of Connecticut, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Henderson and Aebi Schmidt.

For the robotics competition, the team built twin robots called Rust and Dust with a unique design. Their clever programs for the robots earned them the prestigious programming award at the FIRST Championship. They started working on their research project and robot design in the summer of 2017. Competing in the FIRST Championship was the culmination of nearly 10 months of hard work, learning and teamwork.