Horry County robotics team invited to world championship but needs help getting there

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The public is encouraged to consider making a donation towards the Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology Robotics team, Aluminum Assault.  The team placed 2nd at Myrtle Beach's FIRST Robotics Competition earlier in March, and now needs your help to attend the robotics world championship in Houston.

The world championship runs April 18th to April 23rd, and the team needs to raise $30,000 by April 14th to go, pre-engineering teacher Bucky Sellers said.  He teaches and oversees the robotics team for the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology, AAST.

"First stands for inspiration and recognition of science and technology.  It's about giving kids a chance to find out where they fit in the science, technology and engineering...and mathematics as well.  it helps them to understand what they're capable of, what they can get into a career doing and that's the only reason we do this," Sellers said.

Sellers said the robotics team helps student prepare for the engineering and science world outside of high school, and has been doing so for 15 years. By having a robotics team for 15 years, AAST is a veteran team in Horry County.  This will be their fourth visit to the world championship.  However, Sellers said this team is more experienced and the program is more advanced than in years past.

Four hundred teams from 27 different countries will be attending the world championship, and Sellers said AAST has a good chance at taking top honors. "These guys have a really good shot at being one of the best high school robots on the planet...that's a big deal to me, that's a big deal to them so they're working very hard at it," Sellers said. His students agree.

Senior Aluminum Assault members Nick Harner and Riley Litcher said building a robot takes about six weeks, and a lot of teamwork.

"What goes into making a good robot? Time, patience, perseverance," Litcher said.

Clearly teamwork helped them win second place earlier this month.  However, the team took home a more unique prize than just second place, they also won the 'Gracious Professionalism' award.  Aluminum Assault uses their expertise and experience to help other robotics teams in the area prepare for competition by assisting with coding and robot-building.

The team is proud of this award, but a 'wild card' bid for a very high school is what landed them the invitation to the world championship.

Harner said he plans to take his robotics success with him to college.  "I'm going to be going to Clemson next year.I'm going to be doing electrical and mechanical engineering...hopefully double major.  I hope to work on their FAE team...which is their formula one team there...and better myself and get more real world experience and application and stuff like that...and be a step ahead,' Harner said.

The students are currently figuring out weaknesses in the robots they used for the FIRST Robotics Competition to improve them for the world championship.  But, they won't be going if they don't reach their fundraiser goal of $30,000.

Sellers said the students have taken their robots to various restaurants around Horry County for 'restaurant nights',' and have also sold Bojangles coupon books.  He said there's been no rock unturned when it comes to finding ways to raise money.  So far, they have about $6,000 in their pocket for the Houston trip.

Your tax-deductible contributions will help provide transportation and lodging for the team.

To donate, please go to www.mypaymentsplus.com. When registering for an account, just make sure to choose Horry County School District, and choose the "I am a guest" option. Checks may be mailed to the Academy for the Arts, Science, and Technology 895 International Drive, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579. Please make out your check to AAST with "AAST Robotics" in the memo line. If you want to make an anonymous donation, please note on your check.

AAST appreciates any amount you or your business can contribute to their team.

To learn more about FIRST Robotics Competition, follow their team at visitwww.usfirst.org.

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