Florida Tech faculty member Siddhartha Bhattacharyya and a team of area engineers from industry and education coached 5th and 6th graders at West Melbourne School for Science to multiple first place awards during the 2022-23 season of the First Lego League Challenge.
Two teams of eight students went through three levels of rigorous competition, taking top spots each time. The West Melbourne teams were among the best in Florida, representing the top 7% of all challenge-level First Lego league teams in the state.
The awards were:
- Champions Award (1st place): Qualifier competitions at Melbourne High School (January 2023)
- Robot Performance Award (1st place) and Engineering Excellence Award (1st place): Regional competition at Orlando Edgewater High School (February 2023)
- Robot Design Award (1st place): State competition at University of North Florida (March-April 2023).
First LEGO League introduces science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to children through hands-on learning. Participants gain real-world problem-solving experience through a guided, global robotics program. The West Melbourne teams has the added advantage of practicing at the ideal spot: Florida Tech’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design (CAMID). Doing so enabled the teams to practice coding, design and robotics as they prepared for the competitions.
In addition to Bhattacharyya, the coaches working with the West Melbourne students were Florida Tech alumni Peter Fassman and Kevin Terry (both from L3Harris) and Michael Ribera (Collins Aerospace), as well as Spencer Chadderdon, Ph.D. and Luna Majumder, Ph.D. (both from L3Harris), Bhavin Patadiya (Cancer Care of Brevard), Ponnusamy Kaliyannan (Magna Electronics) and Asheleigh Wells (coach and robotics club sponsor, West Melbourne School of Science).