Muscatine Fire Island Robotics Qualifies for 2nd Consecutive Worlds

MUSCATINE, Iowa (KWQC) – A group of Muscatine High School students are competing on the international stage in Houston.

On Thursday, Muscatine Fire Island Robotics completed the first day of qualifying at the FIRST Robotics Championship.

According to the tournament’s website, about 600 teams from around the world are participating. Fire Island booked its ticket in March at the St. Louis Regional.

The driver of the team, Gabriel Sanchez, said that he is happy to be on the top step.

“I absolutely love the environment. It’s an intense and amazing feeling,” Sanchez said. other teams and continue to compete for the best.”

Chief mechanic Ethan Mattes has been with the team for seven years. He said it’s amazing to see it develop so far.

“It’s really interesting to see some of the younger kids try and still step into these roles,” Mattes said. “[See them] start fitting those roles and find your little something. [It] Kind of reminds me of when I did that.”

Also on this trip is the coach of the team, Jerry Zollers. He works at HNI as a product development engineer. When her son joined five years ago, she started volunteering and stayed there after graduation.

“[My favorite is] just to see the kids succeed,” Zollers said. “Give them the tools I’ve learned over the years … Everything they’ve learned here, they’ll use in their jobs in the future.”

For the team’s other driver, Lucille Engel, some of those lessons go beyond technology and engineering, especially when looking for sponsors.

“I actually get a lot of other aspects like the business aspect,” Engel said. “I’ve definitely gotten a lot better at talking to large groups of people.”

This year’s trip to Houston is the second in a row and third overall for the Island of Fire.

First-year member Mohit Wani hopes to make it an annual tradition.

“I’m excited and also nervous because it’s my first time,” Vani said. “I just want to see the experiences and learn and hopefully get some knowledge so that we can do even better next year.”

The team finished 17th out of 77 teams in its division after qualifying on Thursday.

The top eight teams in each division automatically qualify for the next round. They then draw two other teams to partner in the next round.

Another Quad City Area team also competed in Houston in a different category. A group of students from Pleasant Valley Junior High School also made it to “Worlds” in the FIRST Lego Challenge.

Qualifiers continue on Friday and the finals begin on Saturday.

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