Reservoir High's robots go into the arena [Fulton/Highland]

Robots are slowly entering our lives and becoming mainstream. You can buy a robotic vacuum cleaner or a robotic lawn mower. Where does one go to get the skills needed to enter this exciting field?

If you live in Fulton and parts of Highland, you go to Reservoir High School and see David Walley, RHS technology educator and sponsor of the Robotics Club.

Two teams from the club recently participated in a two-day robotics competition at Marriotts Ridge High School. Team 5709, comprising Zach Blough, Sachin Kuruvilla, Rohan Kuruvilla, Eric Cowell, Justin Sutcliff, Chris Reilly, Javier Zambranna and Sahill Patel, built a four-wheel-drive square bot designed specifically for each part of their qualifier.

Team 8194, comprising Andrew Howe, Alec Goodman, Matthew Agresti, Alexander Schmidt, Ewan Ball, Akshay Patel and Declan Downie, built a square two-wheel-drive bot that was designed for all three phases of the competition.

This was the first competition that any of the team members had ever attended. David wrote that the kids "were overwhelmed with the quality of the bots and the level of engineering that went into making them."

Their initial discouragement turned into motivation and inspiration. The guys began taking part in the spirit of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition which is "Gracious Professionalism," part of the ethos of FIRST.

Their bots initially reached fourth and fifth place out of 30 but, by the end of the day, they dropped to 15th and 19th, respectively. Day two of the competition found the teams in a state of "calm optimism" David wrote that programmer Sahill Patel said, "I hate to be cliché, but I know our bots don't do everything. But if we can make it do the small things right, I think we have a shot."

That's what the teams did. They participated in every event scheduled for the day. Team 8194 driver Matthew Agresti could not participate due to illness so the driving duties fell to backup driver Ewan Ball, qualifying them at 12th out of 25.

Team 5709 showed that although they had a small bot, the simple programming and superior driving skills of Justin Sutcliff would pack a punch for any final alliance. Team 5709 qualified at eighth and made it into the elimination rounds, where they finished second overall. David recapped: "I was very pleased with the team, and their motivation to succeed. At the beginning of the season I set the goal of qualifying for states. The kids put in countless hours of hard work after school and it reflects in their attainment of the goal."

Presented by the Advanced Theatre Class, the play "Shipwrecked" is coming to the Reservoir High School Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28 and March 1. "Dare to be whisked away in a family-friendly story of the high seas, populated by exotic islanders, flying wombats, giant sea turtles and a monstrous man-eating octopus.

"Shipwrecked" examines how far we're willing to blur the line between fact and fiction in order to leave our mark on the world. The adventurous Louis de Rougemont and his company of storytellers invite you to hear an amazing story of bravery, survival and celebrity that left nineteenth-century England spellbound."

Seating is limited and must be purchased ahead of time to guarantee a seat for the show. This show will be presented on a black box stage format (a cozy theater space) and runs for about 90 minutes. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at

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