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Beach Botics Wins MIT Competition

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

The Foundation for Educational Excellence is a proud supporter of Hilton Head High School’s Robotics Team through several Teacher Grants awarded to John Quindlen.

On January 11th, a special project team made up of four of the forty students who comprise Hilton Head High School’s Robotics Club brought home the gold from the Zero Robotics Competition sponsored by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The team that calls itself Beach Botics led by senior Bryan Velazquez also includes sophomores Kieran Ashton, Arnaut Aguilar, and Christian Ambrocio.

But success didn’t happen over night. In order to qualify, the team had to submit a code that could earn them a point to proceed in the competition. Their assignment: Write code to operate a remote satellite that will land on another planet and drill beneath the surface to collect samples of life, all while managing a limited amount of fuel.

When the drop-dead date to enter the competition arrived, the team still hadn’t worked out the code. They had nothing ready to submit to MIT. At 6 p.m. they decided to call it a day. Their mentors, John Quindlen and John Melanson, praised their efforts, reminding them of all they had learned during the process. They’d get it next time. At 11:50 p.m., Mr. Quindlen and Mr. Melanson were surprised to receive an email from the ecstatic students. The last line read, “SEE YOU GUYS IN THE NEXT ROUND!” They had figured it out. After their mentors left, the students decided they weren’t ready to give up just yet. They spent the next six hours at one of the team member’s homes going back and forth until they finally got it right.

That was the code that took them all the way to MIT in Cambridge, MA where they competed against the top 83 teams in the world…and won. While there, they toured the International Space Station lab, met other brilliant-minded students, and watched a live downlink from the International Space Station as astronauts used the code they had written to test satellites in zero gravity conditions.

Way to go, Beach Botics!