Aquidneck Island robotics team to compete in world championship

Team will travel to St. Louis April 26-29


AQUIDNECK ISLAND — A local robotics team is the only Rhode Island group that qualified for the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) World Championship in St. Louis, Mo. later this month.

AIR STRIKE 78 of the Aquidneck Island Robotics Club finished ranked eighth out of 196 teams in New England. Only the top 37 teams from New England advance to the World Championship, to be held April 26 to 29.

AIR STRIKE is made up of 24 high school students from 10 high schools across Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts. Eleven students attend Portsmouth High School and there are two other Portsmouth residents on the team who attend Portsmouth Abbey and St. George’s School.

Students worked with professional mentors to design and build a robot to compete in the 2017 FRC game STEAMWORKS

This year’s game challenges the teams to build steam pressure by shooting balls, start rotors by delivering gears and prepare for flight by climbing a rope. This all takes place during 2.5-minute-long matches while partnered with two other teams against another alliance of three teams.

AIR STRIKE, in its eighth season, built a 120-pound robot to compete in STEAMWORKS. The students had only six weeks to design an effective solution.

During its six-week competition season, AIR STRIKE traveled across New England and competed in four events. The team won the Rhode Island District and earned the following team and technical awards:

• Chairman’s Award at the Rhode Island District Event — This award is the most prestigious award in FIRST, an acronym for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” The award honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and which best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST.

• Gracious Professionalism Award, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson at the Southeastern Massachusetts District Event — This award celebrates outstanding demonstration of FIRST core values such as gracious professionalism both on and off the playing field.

• Quality Award, sponsored by Motorola at the Granite State District Event — This award celebrates form and function in an efficiently design machine that effectively addresses the game challenge.

• Dean’s List semi-finalist — Aidan Lynch, a junior at Portsmouth Abbey, was selected as a semi-finalist for this award, which recognizes the leadership and dedication of FIRST's most outstanding students.

Major sponsors of AIR STRIKE 78 include the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport, DOD STEM, DE Ramel Foundation, Raytheon, KVH, CVS, and Rite Solutions, who provide funding, tools, and technology professionals.

Students from Portsmouth

Here are all the students from AIR STRIKE 78 who live in Portsmouth:

• Portsmouth High School: Kenneth Armijo, Freddy Collins, Keys Ferris, Austin Francis, Edward Jackson Jr., Sami Jefferds, Nick Johnson, Eric Kasischke, Jacob Kimes, Martin Lasky, Will McKeon, Charlie Silveria and Seamus Sullivan

• Portsmouth Middle School: Tom Hilmer

• Portsmouth Abbey: Aidan Lynch (another student, Gabriel Sotomayor, lives in Newport)

• St. George’s School: Spencer Dellenbaugh


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.