19th Robotics Competition takes over Hofstra


The most challenging part about controlling 120-pound robots in a life-size video game is building the robots, said the students from W.T. Clarke High School who are competing in the 19th Long Island Robotics Competition, held from April 9 to 14 at Hofstra University.

The competition — hosted by the education organization For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology and School-Business Partnerships of Long Island — joins hundreds of students from high schools across the globe who have spent the past six weeks designing and constructing robots to compete in a predetermined challenge.

The robots are not battling each other, however, but are working in groups to complete a series of tasks. “The key is that the teams are playing together,” said Bertram Dittmar, the Executive Director of SBPLI/FIRST. “In as much as this is a competition, the winning teams must cooperate with each other to win.”

As the W.T. Clarke students said, a lot of the work happens before the game. “You’re really working on your robot, in-depth, for months,” said W.T. Clarke High School senior Ethan Scherer.

“The mental preparation is a lot greater than in any other sport,” said Kyle Kandel, also a senior, who’s also on the football and basketball teams at W.T. Clarke. In addition to the robotics club, many of the teammates work together on the school’s Lighthouse Club, which is dedicated to community service.

"The SBPLI Long Island Regional is an amazing way for students to showcase their talents in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields," said Larry Toonkel, the Co-Director of the FIRST Robotics Competition.