I’ve heard it’s amazing,” says Billy about the St. Louis competition, where more than 250 teams will face off, compared to 40-60 in regionals. “I think it’s going to be crazy but it’s going to be fun. Just the atmosphere … how big it is and all those amazing robots together, because you know everyone there is the best of the best.”

He has plans for a robotics engineering career after high school – and the lessons he’s learned at SHARP are propelling him there: “I don’t think that I would be where I am without it. If you have something that is fun but at the same time you are using all these skills,” he says, noting that  classroom lessons stick, and applying them to real-world tasks comes more naturally.

“It’s had me exploring different things in school,” adds Kevin. “Freshman year I took three different math classes. I’ve learned a lot about teamwork, how to interact with other people.”

“It’s kind of cool–my co-driver and I have formed a very interesting relationship,” he adds. “We yell at each other” but it helps them focus.

Kevin is already looking forward to post-competition sessions, when the group will be remaking their Frisbee shooter just to play with it, and building a t-shirt cannon “just to show off,” he jokes.

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Click to read more in this series! This article is part of a series in Learning Innovation in partnership with WQED, Pittsburgh Magazine and WESA.