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Peterborough robotics team participates in regional competition

  • Team 1729, which includes members from across the Monadnock region, participated in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manchester.<br/><br/>Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky

    Team 1729, which includes members from across the Monadnock region, participated in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manchester.

    Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky

  • Team 1729, which includes members from across the Monadnock region, participated in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manchester.<br/><br/>Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky

    Team 1729, which includes members from across the Monadnock region, participated in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manchester.

    Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky

  • Team 1729, which includes members from across the Monadnock region, participated in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manchester.<br/><br/>Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky

    Team 1729, which includes members from across the Monadnock region, participated in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manchester.

    Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky

  • Team 1729, which includes members from across the Monadnock region, participated in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manchester.<br/><br/>Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky

    Team 1729, which includes members from across the Monadnock region, participated in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manchester.

    Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky

  • Team 1729, which includes members from across the Monadnock region, participated in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manchester.<br/><br/>Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky
  • Team 1729, which includes members from across the Monadnock region, participated in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manchester.<br/><br/>Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky
  • Team 1729, which includes members from across the Monadnock region, participated in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manchester.<br/><br/>Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky
  • Team 1729, which includes members from across the Monadnock region, participated in the FIRST Robotics competition in Manchester.<br/><br/>Photo courtesy Steve Lipofsky

The road to the Granite State Regional competition has been a long one for the local Peterborough-based robotics engineering team, Team 1729. For six weeks, they’ve spent hours each day building a monstrous 120-pound, three-foot-tall metallic robot.

And not only building it, but programming it to climb monkey bars and shoot frisbees into goals to accumulate points to meet the challenges set for their team this year. The group is a FIRST Robotics team, meaning they must raise funds, design a team “brand,” and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks.

On Friday and Saturday at the Verizon Center in Manchester, Team 1729, a local 4-H club made up of students from around the Monadnock region, got the chance to pit their creation against other teams from across the state in a battle of skills.

The robot is definitely the creation of the 15 teenagers that make up the team, too, said the team’s senior mentor Andre Wood of Greenfield. They do all the design, programming, and wiring — the only thing they don’t do themselves is the physical welding of the pieces. While they can get guidance from the mentors who assist them, they are the lead engineers on the project, he said. And it represents a significant time commitment. They spent six weeks working on their creation — from Jan. 5, when they’re told the parameters to which they need to build their robot, until Feb. 28, the day when they finally had to stop tinkering. They work three hours after school each day, and as long as six hours on Saturdays or Sundays.

“The robot is not perfect, because it’s built in a short period of time, under pressure, by teenagers,” laughed Wood. “But it is an impressive little beast and does it shoot frisbees.”

Just about every member of the team this year is interested in entering college and pursuing a field in science, technology, engineering or math disciplines, said Wood. That’s one of the goals he has as a mentor in the field. That’s not unusual for the students who join the team, though, Wood added. Since he has been a mentor to the team, he’s seen 100 percent of the kids who participate go on to college, and most of them pursue an engineering or math field.

“The teenager’s goal is to build a really neat robot and compete and win,” said Wood. “The adult’s goal is to help these kids become engineers. My goal is to build inventors, and get them to go to college and become a contributing engineer. That’s why we do it. And it’s also a whole lot of fun.”

The team arrived for the regional competition on Feb. 28, to weigh in and qualify the machine they’d spent the last six weeks constructing. They made the weight limit and qualified for the competition, but the whole weekend didn’t go as smoothly, said Wood. At one point during the two-day competition, the team got their robot off the floor after a match, only to discover one of the wheels had been damaged and needed to be replaced.

“The kids had to pull out the motor, gear box, and replace the wheel, and put it back together in about 15 minutes,” said Wood. “It was right out of Formula 1, and the robot went back in the next match. You can’t ask for better teamwork than that.”

The team did not make it to the finals round, coming in 43rd of 45 teams, but did do progressively better as the matches went on, said Wood. And that’s not the end of their season, he added. The group plans to participate in Battlecry, an off-season robotics competition in Worcester, Mass., on May 17. They’ll also do exhibitions throughout the year at venues such as the Greenfield Public Library and the New Ipswich Children’s Fair using the robot they constructed in January and February. But they will continue to make improvements on their machine, said Wood.

For more information on Team 1729, visit www.team1729.org.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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