Baldwin High School Robotics Club members achieved their best season in six years, through hard work and community support, according to adviser Gary Suter. “We have a lot to improve on, but we learned that we can hold our own at the national level,” Suter said. As Hawaii’s representative to the FIRST Robotics Competition held in St. Louis, Mo., Baldwin was seeded 12th out of 100 teams in its pool, a spot that took them to the verge of competing at the highest national level.
Competitors in FIRST Robotics were given six weeks to design, build and program robots that weigh up to 120 pounds. The robots perform various tasks to earn points. In this year’s game, robots scored points for shooting Frisbees in or on various goals. They climbed rungs on a pyramid-shaped structure. Suter served as the adviser for Baldwin’s 22-member club. Eight students traveled to compete in the national contest. Senior Software Engineer Bob Brem of Boeing Company assisted with mentoring the students. Looking ahead to the 2014 contest, Suter said his students could use the expertise of a mechanical engineer as well.
Suter said he’s grateful to have Brem and Boeing, for their support, as well as Maui Economic Development Board, which helped make up a cash shortfall for team travel expenses. Family, friends and other individuals chipped in as well. “The community really stepped up for us. We could not have competed nationally without support,” Suter said. “MEDB made a huge difference.” MEDB provided more than $5,000 in support from the Ke Alahele Education Fund. Suter said the purpose of competing in robotics is to promote and advance high-technology skills. “The students get to apply science, math and engineering in robotics. It’s a real pressure cooker, but it’s also a very, very real world experience for them,” he said.