Westborough High School robotics team continues to grow

Members of WHS robotics team, Redshift, cart their robot following a competition in
Shrewsbury last month. (Photo / Laura Hayes)

WESTBOROUGH – Coming into Westborough High School, Leah Colaco didn’t know what she wanted to do.

However, as a freshman she joined the high school’s robotics team – Redshift – where, she said, she found a community that fosters innovation and hands-on experience.

“I realized how much I loved building stuff and creating and getting a problem and having to work through it,” Colaco recently told the Community Advocate.

Redshift was among the teams competing at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition North East District Central Massachusetts Event at Shrewsbury High School on March 26.

It was Redshift’s first event of the season before they were due to head to their second competition at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

“It’s interesting to come here for the first time in over a year,” said Mentor Louis Lung. “For a lot of these kids, it’s brand new… It really is a trial by fire for them.”

Colaco said this year has been different because the team has a lot of new members.

However, Mentor Ed Burdick said the team is rising to the challenge.

Plus, Redshift has some “star” freshmen.

“This year, we are in development,” Burdick said. “A million new freshmen came in. None of them know anything. ”

The team has one senior. Juniors, like Colaco, also only had about half a season under their belt due to COVID-19 prior to this year.

So, the team got to work in the fall, holding classes to help get members ready for the season.

From there, the team moved onto the part of their season where they actually built the robot.

Colaco said they split the new members up, pairing them up with some of the experienced players.

The new members gained a lot of hands-on experience throughout the course of the season, meaning that, over the past several weeks, they have been able to do work by themselves.

Redshift previously spent the first few weeks of 2022 designing their robot online, following a spike of COVID-19 cases in January with the Omicron surge.

During that time, team groups worked with a mentor to create a design for the robot that they presented to the rest of the team.

“We tried to be very creative,” Colaco said. “We made Lego models and little drawings, trying to present over Zoom what was going on inside your head.”

This season, their robot features a turret, which has been a goal for Redshift team members.

Moving forward, the team is excited for the future.

“If we do reasonably well this year, I’m happy, but we’ll [also] be ready for next year, ”Burdick said.


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