In this edition of Behind the Scenes, we talked to FIRST Robotics Team 5962 - perSEVERE based out of the Merrimack Valley. Lead by team mentor Mike Johnston, this team has had tremendous success as of late. Established in 2016 this team has collected numerous awards from their start. In 2016, they were awarded the Rookie All Star Award as well as the Highest Rookie Seed and the Gracious Professionalism Award presented by Johnson & Johnson. In 2018, They collected the District Chairman’s Award as well as the Regional Chairman’s Award.

After working hard for many months, Team 5962 just recently finished an intense six-week long build for the 2019 Season, “Destination: Deep Space.” Some other accolades that this team has recently achieved are: Hosting a First Lego League Jr Expo (FLL) for roughly two dozen elementary school teams, learned how to build a smart robot with ultra-sensors, motor controllers, accelerometers, and encoders. The team also hosted a STEM engagement event for the English Language Learners at Lowell High school and they've gone through roughly 35 packages of cookies along the way.

We had the opportunity to ask these students some questions regarding their experience with the FIRST Robotics competition, team member Katya said that as a child she was always into robotics, she participated in the same FLL that her and her team has just finished hosting, and since then she has joined the FIRST Robotics Team and her love for robotics has continue to grow.

Another question we had asked was whether these students could see themselves working with Robotics in the future. Shivam gave us an answer that made us stop and realize the impact we make by supporting their team. Shivam goes on to say “I want to work with robots because they are really cool. FIRST has inspired me to become an engineer because I love when our team is out there playing with others, having fun, and competing. Without the opportunity FIRST Robotics has provided Shivam there is a chance that he may not have been able to express his desire to become an engineer until college.

 Of course, for Team 5962, they have faced some challenges. One challenge team member Kat faced was a challenge that she brought upon herself stating “When I joined the team, I decided to purposely challenge myself by diving into things I had no experience with. I've been coding for years, but instead of joining the software group, I help with electrical and mechanical engineering aspects of our robot. Being in an environment where I often know the least is tough technically and emotionally, but what keeps me motivated is something that a mentor told me: that every day is another chance to show up and try my best. I made the choice to surround myself with people who more skilled than me, and I don't regret it—the rewards of the challenge make it worth it.” This inspiring quote from Kat is proves the toughness of these students. Kat went outside her comfort zone and branched out to new opportunities. It is amazing to think that a student is pushing themselves to experience unfamiliar challenges as well as to voluntarily put themselves at a knowledge disadvantage in order to reach a common goal.

We appreciate Team 5962 taking a moment out of during this busy time period to answer our questions and to give us feedback on how their experience this year has been with FIRST. Team 5962 – perSEVERE welcomes anyone who may be interested to come to their competition on March 30-31 for the New England District Competition at the Whittemore Arena on the UNH campus to see them and their robot Antares. Here is a look at what you can expect from Antares: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26EiVH5yALo. We wish perSEVERE the best of luck at their competitions.

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