CVU robotics team to compete at FIRST Robotics Championship

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 5:55 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2022 at 7:06 PM EDT
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HINESBURG, Vt. (WCAX) - Behind their newly won state championship trophy, the Champlain Valley Union High School Robohawks are hard at work getting their robot prepared for the FIRST Championships in Houston, Texas, in just a few weeks. This brings together teams from all across the world to compete against each other. It might just be one robot but it’s a whole team of high schoolers who have come together to make this dream a reality.

“It’s a unique opportunity to be able to go to worlds and see the other robots and what a bunch of other people given the same challenge, how they approached it completely differently than we did,” said Wolfie Davis, a CVU senior who has been a member of the robotics team for seven years.

The robot they are working on can drive forward, backward, sideways and even picks things up and can go across bumpy terrain.

This robot will go up against the creations of high schoolers from around the world later this month.

“Being able to have this opportunity as part of the school day, as well to work on a robot and actually like learn by doing and the experience you gain by that and the teamwork and all these great skills that will definitely benefit us all in our future careers,” Davis said.

Davis is headed to Northeastern in the fall to pursue mechanical engineering.

The Robohawks club encourages students’ interest in STEM fields-- science, technology, engineering and mathematics. However, the Robohawks agree their robotics work goes beyond STEM.

“It’s about more than sort of just the technological skills. I think that it’s similar to business how you have to foster all these others skills like teamwork and being able to share ideas in different ways and I think that’s a really important thing to learn at an early age,” said Crawford Phillips, a CVU junior.

It’s very rare that any Vermont teams make it to worlds. This year, in fact, CVU and South Burlington both qualified.

CVU Robotics Coach Olaf Verdonk has been coaching the robotics team for 11 years and says the opportunity to head to Texas with their robot is incredible.

“For them to be able to work alongside these students and see the clever and inventive and creative ways that other teams have solved the exact same problem is going to be a really incredible learning experience for them,” Verdonk said.

The world championships begin on April 20.

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