News article

Young British innovators compete in New York robotics competition

This world location news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A group of young innovators from the UK competed with 200 teams in an international robotics challenge in New York City.

Over 2,500 students from grades 4-12 competed in various technology challenges at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in front of a 6,000 strong crowd. The majority of students competing were from the New York area, but a British school, Hills Road Sixth Form College (HRSFC) in Cambridge, flew across the Atlantic to compete for the 12th time in this competition. The team, cleverly named “Team Systemetric” as a reference to the use of the metric system in the UK, were challenged to build a robot that can throw a Frisbee and climb towers in six weeks.

The team's robot climbs a tower.
The team's robot climbs a tower.

The competition marked the 13th For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Mega Celebration of Science and Technology in New York City.

The students with their robot
The students with their robot

“[Our school] aims to encourage students’ passion for technology, science and engineering by promoting robotics as a vehicle for students to explore practical problems,” said David Massey, team mentor and head of the electronics department. “Being able to talk confidently about FIRST activities has helped several students secure university places, including at some of the most prestigious UK universities.”

Innovation is GREAT Britain t-shirts with the team logo
Innovation is GREAT Britain t-shirts with the team logo

The team finished a respectable 19th of 63 places. Sporting Union Flag waist coasts (and the one female team member in a Union Flag dress) while draped in British flag capes, the students were a visual stand out - so much so they were the only team whose photograph made the printed version of The Wall Street Journal!

Deputy Consul General Nick Astbury with the students from his alma mater
Deputy Consul General Nick Astbury with the students from his alma mater

While testing their robot out for the first time since its arrival in New York, the team met with Deputy Consul General, Nick Astbury. Nick is a former HRSFC student, and was delighted to welcome the team to New York. 

“It was fantastic to be back with Hills Road students after 24 years,” he said. “The innovative technology of their Frisbee-throwing robot was well beyond what we had back then, but the enthusiasm and passion for excellence were just the same. They are excellent ambassadors for Britain, and we hope to see HRSFC back here again next year.”