CAROLINA FOREST (WMBF) - A group of local high school students from the Academy of Arts, Science, and Technology are set to compete in the FIRST Robotics national championship.
They will compete against 400 teams from 25 countries around the world. Bucky Sellers is the First Robotics team coach, and instructor of the pre-engineering program at the Academy.
In the regional championships, his team faced a number of problems that could have gotten them down. Instead they persevered through a busted radiator, and in true champion fashion, came back to win the competition.
"I literally.. I was so excited I couldn't even watch the last two matches," Sellers proudly said. "I had to stay in the pit area in the back, I couldn't even go watch. And when I saw the guys in the stands jumping up and down that we had won the last one, and won the whole thing, I don't even know how to tell you how excited that was. It was an incredible experience."
Now the team is battling another foe- the dollar sign. They have to race to raise $25,000 to compete in St. Louis.
For Sellers, the competition is about winning, of course, but also more than that. "I always wanted to win one for the school and for the kids. But really, we do it so the kids can get the experience they need and get the preparation they should have by the time they leave high school."
FIRST Robotics gives away around $16 million in scholarships with colleges and universities across the world. "One out of every four students who applied for it, actually received a full ride," Sellers said. "Almost every student that applied for it received some sort of amount of scholarship from FIRST Robotics."
Good news for students in Bucky Sellers' class. Each of them plans to major in some type of engineering, so the FIRST Robotics competition is not just a hobby- it's preparing them.
Sellers is working with Horry County Schools on fundraising in the next month so the team can head to St. Louis, Missouri, fully prepared. There is a donation bin at the front of the Academy of Arts, Science, and Technology, and there is now an online donation site set up for those who want to support the team. Donate here: http://aast.horrycountyschools.net/pages/Academy_for_Arts_ScienceTech/News/Please_DONATE_to_AAST_Robotics
As of March 31, $10,000 has been raised, so the kids are still very far from their goal.