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Farmingdale Observer - Schools

Robotics Challenge Win

The Farmingdale High School team recently won the Northrop Grumman High School Innovation Challenge for the second year in a row. This year’s challenge, dubbed AVATAR, for Autonomous Vehicle Tracking And Rendezvous, was a robotics competition. Facing off against Massapequa, Baldwin, and Copiague, some with well-equipped robotics clubs, Farmingdale, which had no robotics club, was considered an underdog. 


The competition simulated real world engineering challenges, by requiring students to design a robot and program it to successfully navigate a complex obstacle course. Just like real world engineering projects, each team had to submit their plans prior to execution at the competition. Through this process students were exposed to the entire engineering process while developing teamwork and presentation skills. 


The competition was fierce from the outset, with Massapequa taking an early lead. Their robot navigated the obstacle course with such efficiency, that faltering teams, including Farmingdale, may have been tempted to throw in the towel. But at the last possible moment, the Farmingdale team relied on a feature absent in their competitors’ systems. Their intentionally designed versatility allowed the Farmingdale team to adapt on the fly and surmount the most difficult and highest point-valued course. 


This successful rally clinched first place and the accompanying prize of a $1,250 grant. But, the win represents far more than the cheers and pageantry of first place. Marcia Avila, Farmingdale resident and volunteer mentor put it best, “It’s an inspiration to see what these students have done; I think it shows the whole community that even though we don’t have all the resources of the other schools, we can still prevail.”  


Special thanks to all the students, teachers, and mentors and who made this win possible: teachers: Mr. Clark and Ms. Brewer; team captain Christopher Brandimarte; team members: Sean Mohan, Kevin Chang, Alec Szigeti, Brittney Mohan, Rachel Danzig, Brad Koster, Summer Baranello, and Katherine Vera; Northrop Grumman mentors Charlie Connors and Marcia Avila.