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Muscatine’s ‘Fire Island Robotics’ headed to the world finals

Fire Island Robotics, a local robotics team made up of middle school and high school students, is set to compete against the world’s best later this month.
Published: Apr. 16, 2022 at 10:17 PM CDT
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MUSCATINE, Iowa (KWQC) - Fire Island Robotics, a local robotics team made up of middle school and high school students, is set to compete against the world’s best later this month.

“Making an idea and coming up with it, either computer-modeling it or drawing it on paper, and then actually going through the process of fabricating it, cutting the metal, cutting the plywood, and then actually having a finished product at the end is a crazy thing that not a lot of kids get to experience,” said Silas Hoffman, a Muscatine High School senior. “It’s just an awesome feeling to actually have something you once had an idea for come to life, and it’s just something you have to experience to get the passion for it.”

Hoffman said that Fire Island Robotics had about 10 weeks before its first competition to put an entire robot together.

Lead coach Chris Hoffman said that all of the students involved in Fire Island Robotics are involved in the robot’s design and prototype phases.

“Some of them come in and they’ve used a regular screwdriver before, but they’ve never used a power screwdriver,” Chris Hoffman said. “By the time they are done here, they are not only using power tools, but they are also using our CNC mill and doing amazing things.”

While Fire Island Robotics’ robot, Mr. Senior Fire, has performed well at competitions, it was actually the student’s efforts away from competition that led to the program earning its second trip to the world finals.

“We actually qualified to go to the world’s competition based on the outreach activities that we do,” Chris Hoffman said. “We received the award that is called the Engineering Inspiration Award, and that’s when the team goes out and spends time and energy letting people know how important STEM - science, technology, engineering, and math - is, and do things in the community to promote STEM.”

Both Silas and Chris Hoffman said Fire Island Robotics team members are excited to head to the world finals.

“It truly is this once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Silas Hoffman said.

“They’ll be amazed at the level of competition because all of these participants have a very sophisticated strategy and so forth,” Chris Hoffman said. “They say it’s the hardest fun you will ever have.”

Fire Island Robotics’ $5,000 entry fee to the world finals was covered by NASA.

The world finals take place in Houston and go from April 20 to April 23. To learn how you can watch, click or tap here.

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