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Staples robotics team back home after world championship competition

Published 5:41 pm, Monday, April 29, 2013
  • Wreckers Robotics Team 577 members stand with their robot, ìStacyî, in their FIRST world robotics championship team pit. From left, are:  Ian Blanchardon, Max Liben, mentor Michael Pan, co-captain Alec Solder, coach John Solder, Will Moeller, co-captain Troy Fantini, and Eric Pan. Photo: Contributed Photo / Westport News
    Wreckers Robotics Team 577 members stand with their robot, ìStacyî, in their FIRST world robotics championship team pit. From left, are: Ian Blanchardon, Max Liben, mentor Michael Pan, co-captain Alec Solder, coach John Solder, Will Moeller, co-captain Troy Fantini, and Eric Pan. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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Staples High School's Wreckers Robotics Team 577 was judged 32nd best in the FIRST Tech Challenge world robotics championship last week in St. Louis, culminating a season that included a state title for the local team.

"Although we did not place in the finals, it was a great learning experience for everybody on the team," junior Will Moeller, a 577 member told the Westport News on Monday. "We'll take what we learned into next season, so we can accomplish our goals and go even further."

Team 577 played eight matches at the championship, winning four and losing four. It competed in a 128-team field that included squads from Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China France, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Spain.

Teams built their robots using a modular robotics platform.

Team 577 includes Moeller and fellow juniors Alec Solder, Troy Fantini, Max Liben and Eric Pan and sophomore Ian Blanchardon. The team began work for the 2012-13 season in September, with parents John Solder and Michael Pan mentoring the group.

"This is an amazingly competitive event and we were proud to represent Connecticut and give it our best shot," Fantini, a co-captain, said in a statement. "We learned a lot and hope to be back next year to take it home again."

Team 577 captured a state championship in February and was seeking to reclaim the world title Staples students won in 2011.

"It is such an honor to attend this competition and place amongst the brightest and best from all over the world", co-captain Alec Solder, the sole remaining member of the 2011 team.

Tapping into the growing prominence of science, technology, engineering and math initiatives in the school district, Moeller said he and his teammates aim for the robotics team to become an established program at Staples that outlasts their participation.

"We're going to make a big push to get a younger generation," he added. "The team will carry on, and it won't die out."