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Top-rank robotics: Westport teams roll to honors at state tourney

Photo by Contributed Photo

Members of Team SNAP (in dark shirts) and The Mechanical Masterminds (in whote shirts) had reasons to smile on Saturday, Dec. 6 in New Britain. The two teams of middle school students captured prizes in a state robotics championship at Central Connecticut State University.

Two teams of Westport middle school students captured prizes during a recent state robotics championship at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

Team Snap and the Mechanical Masterminds on Dec. 7 took home a total of five prizes from the First Lego League State Robotics Championships, according to a news release issued by their coaches.

The Westport teams were among 48 that advanced to the state championship from regional qualifying rounds. They spent 12 weeks designing, programming and building original robots to complete specific tasks. They also conducted research on natural disasters and devised ways to control damage from them.

Team Snap, an independent team of five Coleyown Middle School boys, won the Second Place Champions Award. The champions award, according to the release, is the tournament's top prize and recognizes excellence in all three of the competition's areas -- robot design, project, and core values.

Team Snap coach Terry Sauer won the Adult Coach/Mentor Award.

The Mechanical Masterminds, sponsored by the Robotics Club of Bedford and Coleytown middle schools, captured first place in head-to-head robot-performance competition and first place in robotics programming, according to the release.

The Masterminds also were one of five teams to receive the Engineering Innovation Award, given by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The award recognizes the most innovative project designs.

Team Snap includes Coleytown students Theo Davis, Dan Kleine, Nathanael Metke, Kiran Nandagopal and Luke Sauer.

The Mechanical Masterminds include Coleytown students Nick Ambrose, Rob Diorio, Nicholas Durkin, John McNab, Daniel Westphal, Josh Zhang and Andy Zhang, plus Bedford students Sunil Green and Justin Schmidt. They are coached by Stephen Diorio and Mike Durkin.

The students designed, built and programmed their robots over 12 weeks to be able to complete specific tasks in head-to-head competition against other robots.

Each team also chose and researched a natural disaster and developed a plan to mitigate damage from a similar disaster in the future.

Team Snap studied how people can best prepare for disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and flooding. It developed and published an iPhone app, available from iTunes, to help people prepare, according to the release. As of this week, 40 percent of the downloads have been from outside the United States, including four from the Philippines, which was ravaged last month by a typhoon.

The Mechanical Masterminds researched coastal and river flooding in Westport. The team developed solutions to protect downtown businesses and homes near Compo Beach and Saugatuck Shores.

Now in its 10th year, First Lego League Robotics competition was founded by billionaire inventor Dean Kamen the Lego Group's Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, according to the news release. Read Full Article