Earlier this month the Hahnville High School Tigerbots robotics team made it all the way to the semi-finals when the members competed in their first in-person competition since the pandemic began.
“We were really happy to finally have an in-person competition,” Richard Fitzgerald, HHS coach and mentor to the Tigerbots since 2013, said.
The engineering and robotics club joins students interested in either pursuing an engineering degree in college or have an interest in robotics. Students explore their passion for robots and learn about the rigors of science and technology.
Fitzgerald said during the 2020 and 2021 robotics season competitions were held virtually, which was difficult on the team. The competition structure gives each team six weeks to analyze a given game and design a robot that can win that game.
“The mentors help students figure out the technical problems with their designs,” Fitzgerald said.
This year after competing in the semi-finals, the Tigerbots ranked seventh out of 33 teams from around the world. Fitzgerald said his team lost in semi-finals to the eventual winner, but that he was proud of his team – many of them competition rookies – for doing such a great job.
Waterford 3 Steam Electric Station has sponsored the Tigerbots program for several years, which prompted the Tigerbots to invite engineers from the station to get a sneak peek of the robot before it hit the competition floor. Waterford 3 team members, all Hahnville High alumni, visited during an after-school meeting to help the team troubleshoot before heading to the competition. The team saw firsthand how the funding benefits the students.
“We were completely blown away,” Niko Massimini, Waterford senior design engineer, said. “Being a graduate from Hahnville, I couldn’t help but be a little envious of the students. I was proud knowing we are making such a big impact in our community and at a school that ultimately shaped me into the engineer I am today.”
Fitzgerald said the students were really excited to meet the Waterford 3 engineering team and share what they had been hard at work on.
“Entergy’s Waterford 3 has been a great sponsor to us, and we appreciated being able to share our progress with the team,” he added.
The funding provided by the Waterford 3 station helps the students purchase materials to build a competition robot and sends students to regional and international competitions. It also supports summer camps put on by high school students.
“What was interesting was to see the ripple effect of our funding,” Nick Petit, Waterford engineering manager, said. “Yes, ultimately, our funding helps build a robot, but it also allows the high school students to serve as a feeder program bringing STEM opportunities to the elementary students in the school system.”
Daryl Marse, Waterford major projects engineer, said the students who participate in the robotics club are learning skills that can be transferred to multiple future education tracks.
“We were most impressed with the intensity with which they worked and the level of teamwork and collaboration amongst the students,” he added.
The Tigerbots – along with Destrehan High School’s team the Wildcat Robotics – will compete this weekend in the Bayou Regional. The March 30 – April 2 competition is free, open to the public and will be held at the Pontchartrain Center, located at 4545 Williams Blvd. in Kenner.
For more information on the event, visit www.frcbayouregional.org.