By Melissa Moore-Randall
On a rainy Saturday morning, members of the Revere High School Robotics team, The NUTRONs, are mentoring middle school students in their small space in the rear of Revere High School. The space is adorned with ribbons, plaques and trophies of their many competition wins.
As they mentor and prepare for future competitions, they are also all smiles and full of pride after placing second at the 2023 FIRST World Championship recently in Houston, Texas. They were just one point shy of first place.
The competition included 974 robotics teams from 59 countries competing across all levels of FIRST programs from grades K-12. Their second place finish was out of 619 qualifying teams from across the globe.
Founded in 1997, The NUTRONs are represented by thirty-three students in grades 7 through 12 from Revere High School, Brookline High School, Boston Latin School and Noble and Greenough School with 71% of their diverse membership being minorities with 18 different languages spoken.
The star of the show for the NUTRONs was the team’s robot, nicknamed Duality, who features a multi-stage telescoping arm, powered-roller intake, wrist mechanism, state of the art vision system and omni-directional â€œswerveâ€ drive system, all packaged in a compact and robust design.
RHS Physics and Robotics Teacher, Josh Miranda, along with Brandon Holley, an engineer and Product Creation Leader at Sonos, Inc. mentor, recruit, supervise, coordinate and seek out grants for their program in the space that RHS welcomed the club to in 2018.
Miranda was extremely proud of his students who traveled over the course of 8 days by van to and from Houston with stops along the way in Memphis, New Orleans and Virginia including Shenandoah National Park.
They were welcomed home on Tuesday with a surprise police and fire escort down Broadway before returning to RHS.
Miranda said his students were amazing and so excited to be part of the competition which they were ranked in the 20s prior to the start. â€œThey were confident because you never know what will happen, and they knew anything can happen in eliminations.â€
Ricky Tran, a junior, was the driver of the team who spent most of his time in the pit. He said it was a hectic environment that required hands-on work and focus. â€œWe worked up to this accomplishment which was insanely huge. We never expected to make it that far since we compete against teams with far more resources and more high tech spaces than us. But we beat them and did it as underdogs.â€ Tran hopes to study engineering and music in college.
Hebat Elkacemi, a senior at RHS, joined the program in the summer with an original goal of learning how to code. She has served in more of a capacity as an outreach point person to get more diverse students involved in the program globally. She will attend Northeastern University next year and study engineering.
Zaraius Bilimoria, a junior, became involved with the NUTRONs when he was a 5th grade student at the A.C. Whelan School. He serves as an operator in the field for competitions and does the main programming. â€œI was really proud to beat a lot of good teams and send them home. Most of all I also enjoyed spending the week with my friends.â€
Luca Bagnato, a 6th grader at Garfield Middle School joined the program this year. He said, â€œI enjoy teamwork, working together and being with my friends. It is pretty cool.â€
The team earned accolades from RHS Principal Christopher Bowen, Superintendent Dianne Kelly and Acting Mayor Patrick Keefe.
Bowen said â€œI am so inspired by the commitment, dedication and skill that this team has demonstrated, not just in this competition but over the past several years. Josh Mirandaâ€™s leadership building, sustaining and championing the development of this program is amazing! And while the students certainly deserve the recognition they get, I also want to shout out Mr. Miranda, without whose passion and energy, none of this would have happened. We are so proud of everyone involved!â€
Superintendent Kelly, who greeted them when they arrived home last week, added,â€We are so incredibly proud of our Robotics team. They have done amazingly well over the last several years but this is certainly a new high! Weâ€™ve been thrilled to be the home-base for the NUTRONs these past five years. They work all year building and doing the necessary machine work to construct their robot, but they also mentor our younger students to let them realize the possibilities they have once they reach high school. I canâ€™t say enough about Josh Miranda and the entire NUTRONs leadership team. They are incredible role models of hard work, determination, and creativity. And our students are just amazing. Some people wouldnâ€™t expect Revere High students to be leading the way with their peers from Boston Latin, Brookline High, and Nobles and Greenough but they do. It is proof positive that with the right support, the children of Revere can do absolutely anything.â€
Acting Mayor Keefe, who also greeted the team at RHS at their homecoming added, â€œRevereâ€™s schools and Revereâ€™s youth give us so many reasons to be proud. Their accomplishments never cease to surprise me. And I think it goes without saying our entire community is incredibly proud of the NUTRONs and the work they put into the competition. Coming second in the world out of more than 600 teams illustrates their unwavering dedication and teamwork. Revereâ€™s future is bright with this group of talented and passionate engineers.â€
Yearly costs for competitions run from $15,000 to $20,000 which are usually covered out-of-pocket or grant funding. As a result, the program could use donations to continue to fund their competitions and programs.
If youâ€™d like more information about the NUTRONs or to find out how you can help, please visit www.nutrons.com or email: [email protected].