Students from Horry County’s Academy for Technology and Academics triumphed Saturday at the FIRST Robotics competition in Myrtle Beach. The team finished on top after the three-day event, making the group eligible to head on to the national championships April 24-27 in St. Louis.
The next hurdle for the 10-member team? Coming up with the $20,000 necessary to make the trip. The team is looking for corporate sponsors or individual donations to pay for the $15,000 or so in trip expenses, plus the $5,000 entry fee.
“It was a great event,” said Mark Kruea, Myrtle Beach spokesman. We were extremely pleased to have hosted that. It’s a good opportunity for our students to compete in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
The event, which hosted about 3,000 people over a three-day period, pulled in high school teams from around the world, including several local teams, to compete in matches. The robots were placed on a 27-by-57-foot field and each robot tossed flying discs through targets. The match ended with the robots trying to climb pyramids on the field.
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From an economic perspective, the competition “ticked a lot of boxes,” Kruea said. “From an educational aspect, technological aspect, we’re trying to diversity our economy for tech. There’s also the economic, tourism benefit.”
The event was packed, with dozens of teams and schools.
“They usually have 40 something teams, and they had 67 and a waiting list,” said Teal Britton, Horry County Schools spokeswoman. “But to keep the event here, there has to be some buy-in from the local community – that’s what I’d want to see.”
Both Britton and Kruea hope the competition returns to the beach and that many more local teams find success.
“If you did not see it, you missed something. This was fun, fast and exciting,” Kruea said.
Full results on how all teams fared were not available at press time.