Rust Belt Robotics

In a relatively short period of time, a robotics community team in WNY has gone from formation to formidable. Thanks to the commitment of sponsors, partners, mentors, and students of course, Rust Belt Robotics (RBR) has risen through the ranks, to become a competitive team made up of rookie and veteran students.

RBR – a non-profit – initially got its start based out of a mentor’s garage, with a meagerly three-student foundation. But in short order, the robotic team has grown to encompass students from eleven different schools in just six months. The astounding growth can be attributed to the commitment of mentors like Stephanie Smith who engage in outreach events at schools and rec centers, while introducing likely candidates to the world of robotics, including CAD modeling, mechanical design, circuitry, programming, and minor woodworking design. Students are also introduced to social networking, as well as STEM programs that will help them to further engage with team building, problem solving, and technological endeavors in the future.

In short order, the free-to-participate program has managed to deliver some remarkable results. This past January, the RBR team was handed a 100-page rule book that spelled out the design guidelines for building a competition robot. Over the course of the next eight weeks, team members went to work on building the robotic creation, to compete in the Tech Valley Regional (TVR) that took place from March 30th to April 1 in Albany, where they made it to the playoffs – it was their second ever competition as a first year team. Making it to the First Championship (Team 424) in Houston, Texas – where 600 teams from all over the world competed – was another milestone for this fledgling team.

The impressive undertaking is thanks to the WNY tech community that rallied around RBR, to ensure that the students were provided with the necessary resources that they needed to successfully compete. The resources included a mock game field to practice, and the opportunity to finetune the robot for competitions.

Currently, RBR is in the process of looking for an official home in Buffalo, so that they can spread their wings even further. The team practices year round, while conducting demos throughout the region.

Anyone interested in sponsoring, providing resources, or even a home for RBR, is welcome to reach out to People can also follow the team on Facebook at FIRST Robotics Team 424 Rust Belt Robotics.

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