Kennett robotics teams shine on world stage

Page 12 — THE CONWAY DAILY SUN, Wednesday, May 6, 2015
CONWAY — Students at Kennett High School
competed on the world stage recently and more
than held their own at the VEX Robotics Competition
Middle & High School World Championships in
Louisville, Ky.
In fact, the Kennett Coders had a pair of top 20
fi nishes — their best showing in the past three
years that KHS has qualifi ed for the championships.
“There were 450 teams there, the best of the best,
from a pool of 12,000 teams worldwide,” Ron Sandstrom,
coach of the Kennett Coders, said.
“Thirty-two countries were represented. One of
the neat things was the competitors were paired
up with other teams at random. It was a wonderful
experience for our kids.”
Senior Tomas Sandstrom and freshman Reece
Bradley ended up 16th in programming skills.

Junior Cathy Sandstrom, freshman Taylor
Bouchard and junior Tait Dickinson ended up 30th
in driver skills. Their team also fi nished the qualifi –
cation rounds in eighth with eight wins — Kennett’s
best qualifying position ever. They were just one win
out of second place overall in the qualifying rounds.
“What an amazing job,” Rick Biche, director of
the MWV Career and Technical Center at Kennett
High, said. “I’m very proud of all the hard work.”
Each of the 450 high school teams had to qualify
by winning a regional or state championship.
The Kennett Coders punched their ticket at the
2015 VEX New Hampshire/Vermont State Robotics
Championships in February.
Not only did Kennett garner its fi rst state title for
robotics in just its fourth year of existence, but the
Coders qualifi ed two teams for the world championships
April 15-18. That gave Kennett two months to
fi ne-tune their robots in preparation for Kentucky.
Ron Sandstrom and fi ve students (Tomas and
Cathy Sandstrom, Dickinson, Bouchard and Bradley)
made the trip to compete.
After qualifi cations, Kennett Coders team captain
Cathy Sandstrom, with input from her team members
Dickinson and Bouchard along with Ron Sandstrom
and parents created a list of teams that would
be compatible as alliance partners for the championship
rounds. They chose to partner with teams from
China and Georgia (of the United States).
The alliance made it all the way to the quarterfi –
nals and nearly pulled out a victory despite being
shorthanded after the Georgia kids were disqualifi
ed for using motors that were out of specifi cation.
“All in all, we left the event happy, feeling good
about our accomplishments and hungry to return
and do better,” Ron Sandstrom said.
Tomas Sandstrom, 18, has competed in the world
championships three years in a row. He had a blast
at this year’s event.
“Since I’ve been doing robotics for four years now,
I think the greatest highlight of robotics is getting to
the world championships,” said Tomas, who is starting
as an intern at Echo Group next week. “I’m so
glad to have made it for the past three years.
He will head to the University of New Hampshire
school of engineering in the fall and plans to major
in computer science.
Cathy Sandstrom, 17, has qualifi ed for the world
championships the past two years. She’s gotten a
great deal out of the experience.
“It was really fun having my team at the event
with me,” she said. “It was very exciting to get into
the fi nals. So many of our events were won by a
single point.”
Coach Sandstrom said the Kennett Coders have
already started to work on next year’s challenge and
are planning on attending a scrimmage at Pembroke
Academy in June to test early versions of their new
robots with a goal of returning to the world championships
in 2016, also in Louisville.
“To get back to the world championships,” he said,
“We need an early start along with community support
and donations to purchase the new competition
fi eld and to get ready.”
Donations to helped the Coders can be sent to
MWV FIRST, care of Joe Riddensdale, Kennett High
School, 409 Eagles Way, North Conway, NH 03860 or
MWVFirst c/o MWV Economic Council, Diane Ryan.
53 Technology Lane, Suite 100, Conway, NH 03818.
Kennett robotics teams shine on world stage
Tomas Sandstrom (left) and freshman Reece Bradley took 16th in
programming skills at the world robotics championships in Louisville,