Tech students need $10Gfor national competition
MILFORD >> Brothers Ben and William Bassett are ready to build a better robot at SkillsUSA national competition in Kentucky — and nine other students from Platt Technical High School are ready to compete in their fields, as well — but the group needs financial help getting there.
Shop teacher and SkillsUSA adviser Dave Feda said he’s proud that 11 students won at the state level to go onto the national competition in June because that’s a “huge deal,” and winning can land them all kinds of big scholarships, job offers, tools of their trade and more.
But there is no funding beyond donations and many of the students have families facing financial struggles, Feda said.
Feda and the group are trying to raise $10,000 and so far have only about $1,700, donated by business and industry officials. The school also will hold fundraisers, including a talent show, but it won’t be enough to get them there.
The Bassett brothers, Ben, 17, and William, 16, won first place at the state level in the mobile robotics category by designing, building and programming a robot that shoots balls up into a 3-foot-high goal.
When they finally did it after months of monopolizing the living room floor with parts and living on six hours of sleep and no other after-school activities, “That was a big yahoo,” said Ben, who wants to be an engineer some day.
He said winning “felt really great after putting all that work into it.”
William, who also wants to be an engineer — their father is an engineer — said of the feeling of winning first place: “It’s extraordinary. You saw, you did, you accomplished.”
For nationals, if they can raise the money, the brothers are going to create another robot that shoots the baskets autonomously, without any prompts.
“The two of them have very different personalities, but they know each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and what each other is thinking,” Feda said of the brothers working together.
Platt student Spencer Hopwood, a sophomore in the electronics shop, was also a first-place winner, even after losing his father months before, Feda said.
“He not only won the states, but he blew away the competition by almost doubling the score of his next closest competitor,” Feda said.
Hopwood, a friend of the Bassetts, has also helped with programming the robot they are designing for nationals and is always there when they need help, William Bassett said, so they will name it Spencer.
“The difference between excellence and mediocrity is the attention to detail, and these kids understand that. Anyone can be mediocre; it takes energy to be excellent,” Feda said.
If interested in donating to these students, and the other SkillsUSA national participants, donations can be made to the SkillsUSA GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/hpy4sqgk. Checks can also be made out to Platt Tech SkillsUSA and sent to 600 Orange Ave., Milford CT 06460, Attention Dave Feda.
Top student winners received gold, silver and bronze medallions. Many also received prizes such as tools of their trade and scholarships to further their careers and education.