Regal Eagles Soar to FIRST World Championships


Gabriella Hernandez, Reporter

In March, our very own Bethpage High School robotics team, the Regal Eagles, received the right to attend For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) World Championships in Houston, Texas. The team worked effortlessly to create a mechanically efficient and technical robot that could soar through the competition field. 

Not only was the team’s robot an engineering success, the team received two awards during their regional competitions: Gracious Professionalism Award and the Engineering Inspiration Award. After winning the Engineering Inspiration Award, the team received full payment from NASA to attend World Championships. The amazing and exhilarating road to Worlds was only the beginning for our Eagles. 

On April 17th, 2023, the team took off to Texas. The first day in Texas was a relaxing one for the team, attending a boardwalk with amusement park rides and delicious food. While it was a great moment for the team to let off some steam, we knew the next three days of competition would be stressful, but rewarding. Our mentors Mr. LaSpina and Dr. Kay felt it was best to incorporate numerous off-field activities for the team of 22 to continue building our strong familial bond in a way that could only improve our success as a team at competition. With the tremendous help of Mr. Choi, Director of Technology, our team attended escape rooms, trampoline parks, a robotics prom (a.k.a RoboProm), and finally a tour of the NASA Space Center in Houston. 

“Being a senior at World Champs didn’t feel as different as any other year,” said Umesh Ponugupati, the team’s build team captain. “I was part of the team and experiencing what would be the culminating event of this season was an incredible experience and it really showed me what I stuck with for 4 years.” 

Mechanical lead and senior Russell Wetzler agreed with Umesh saying, “Worlds was a blast and it’s a season I won’t forget. And FIRST has truly inspired me to pursue engineering and STEM.”

Both Umesh and Russell plan to return to the FIRST program and the robotics team here at Bethpage during their college breaks to continue supporting our team’s successes and instilling the core values of gracious professionalism and cooperation amongst the Bethpage Community. Overall, the team’s performance and adventures in Houston, Texas was a great way to end off the competition season and we can’t wait to do it all again next year.