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BVT’s Robotics Team 61 Awarded the District Chairman’s Award

BVT’s First Robotics Team 61, The Intimidators, received the prestigious NEFRC 2022 District Chairman’s Award during the NEFRC competition at WPI in April.

Upton - The Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School (BVT) Robotics Team 61, The Intimidators, competed against the top robotics teams from across New England during the New England FIRST Robotics Competition (NEFRC) District event held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in April. Team 61 was ranked 24th and came home with the District Chairman’s Award. 
The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award at FIRST; it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and embodies the mission of FIRST. It was created to keep the central focus of FIRST Robotics Competition on the goal of transforming the culture in ways that will inspire greater levels of respect and honor for science and technology, and encourage more of today’s youth to become science and technology leaders.
“Thank you to everyone who helped make our dream of winning this award a reality,” said Ms. Nicole Ledoux, FIRST Robotics Coach, Team 61. “For the past 28 years, Team 61 has proudly represented BVT at FIRST, and we’re all incredibly thrilled to be awarded this outstanding honor.” 
Chief Outreach Officer Natalia Vazquez (Engineering & Robotics) and Junior Outreach Officer Kate Watchmaker (Electronics & Engineering Technology) are both juniors from Mendon. They are responsible for organizing team meetings and outreach events for The First Robotics Team 61 within the community. 
Team 61 provides STEM opportunities for kids at a young age through hosting events at local libraries, volunteering at middle schools to teach students robotics skills, and hosting FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Challenge competitions. “This past year, Team 61 began an Assistive Technology program dedicated to creating products to aid differently-abled people with some of their daily routines,” said Kate. “One such example is the development of Hydration Alert, our first implementation of Assistive Technology in Robotics. It was designed to help elderly farmers to stay hydrated depending on the outside temperatures, prompting them to drink through sensory-based alerts and vibrations.”
The Intimidators have worked with the Center for Applied Behavioral Instruction (CABI), a school for students with special needs, to host different robotics demonstrations and visited their campus to work more interactively in a safe and controlled environment. Through the pandemic, they have remained in contact with the CABI School and are currently developing a STEM-based curriculum for their students to gain the skills to start their own FIRST team.
“Team 61 has always been more than an intimidating robotics team,” said Natalia Vazquez. “We prioritize accessibility to STEM and are proud to spread the message of FIRST, and seeing the joy in kids’ faces as they drive a robot for the first time is incredible.”
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