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Local News

Joliet robotics team advances to world championship contest

In this Herald-News file photo from February, Andre Biaseela (left) and Nick Machacek explain how Cerberus the robot will function at an exhibition at the JTHS Administration Center, 300 Caterpillar Drive, Joliet.
In this Herald-News file photo from February, Andre Biaseela (left) and Nick Machacek explain how Cerberus the robot will function at an exhibition at the JTHS Administration Center, 300 Caterpillar Drive, Joliet.

JOLIET – The Joliet Cyborgs team has advanced to the FIRST Robotics World Championship

The championship will take place from April 26 to 29 in St. Louis. The Joliet Cyborgs is made up of students from Joliet Township High School District 204 who’ve constructed a robot named Cerberus to compete.

The team has been competing in the Midwest Regional FIRST Robotics Competition against 3,100 other teams worldwide, according to a District 204 news release.  

“It’s a big deal; it’s a big honor to get that far. …The kids are really excited right now,” said Thomas Connelly, a team mentor and Joliet Central High School teacher.

Team member Ruth Pina said she is extremely proud of the Joliet Cyborgs. She said that when she went to the competitions, she was sort of expecting to be the only girl there, but she saw many other girls, including those in leadership roles.

“That’s kind of a big thing I get from it,” Pina said. 

The Joliet Cyborgs team has participated in the Midwest Regional FIRST Robotics Competition for the sixth year in a row. The team is divided into groups focused on building, programming, designing, marketing and organizing.

The team’s robot, Cerberus, is equipped with a 12-volt car battery and is able to move around, climb up a rope and pick up plastic whiffle balls that it can shoot. The students put the robot together under a tight six-week schedule with limited resources and under strict rules. 

With the world championship coming up, the Joliet Cyborgs team is seeking funding to offset costs for the event. Connelly said the team is raising money through corporate sponsors, but others can make donations through the district’s alumni website

District officials said in a news release that the team provides an important introduction to real-world science, technology, engineering and mathematics problem-solving in addition to providing important financial aid opportunities to students. 

“Over 90 percent of Cyborgs students continue on in STEM fields, building on what they have learned in the [robotics program],” a district news release stated. More than 75 percent of the Cyborgs’ students are first-generation college students, and a quarter are first-generation Americans.” 

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