Vets robot team gets spot in Saturday’s Brown block party


Instead of hot dogs and hamburgers, fireworks and lawn chairs, the block party hosted by Brown University’s Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative and Rhode Island Students of the Future will be showcasing the latest in robotics technologies for the second annual Rhode Island Robot Block Party.

The block party, which will be this Saturday at the Pizzitola Sports Center, will have more than 40 exhibitors from various colleges and universities, schools, industry leaders and community organizations showing off different robotic technologies, including Warwick Veterans High School’s Robotics Team.

Vets’ Robotics Team competed in the regional robotics competition in Pennsylvania last month, ranking 42nd out of 72 teams. They also scored second out of the five teams that went from Rhode Island.

The coach, Lawrence West, said, “The kids did really well, they had the best time. The same students who competed for the regionals will be demonstrating the Vets robot, “Chester.”

West said that several people from Vets reached out to him after they heard about Brown’s Block Party, encouraging him and the team to get an exhibition spot.

“The students are really excited we got accepted. They worked so hard on this robot and it works flawlessly. They love talking about their robot,” West said.

He said he hopes people who are interested in robotics but don’t currently have a team are able to see how exciting and rewarding robotics can be and are inspired to establish their own team.

West and the Vets Robotics Team will answer questions not only on their robot but how they go about recruiting and funding for their school’s robotics team.

“I think that this block party is just a beginning of a trend,” West said. “It gives interested people an opportunity to view these robots first hand, something that this community really didn’t have before. Interest is only going to grow after people see everything.”

The Vets team is even reaching out to younger audiences to spark an interest.

Two of the students, Kaleigh Marcotte and Kevin Sanita, have been visiting Warwick Neck Elementary School to help some of the students build their own robots in two days and will be following up later in the school year to help program them.

Brown will be displaying their technologies developed to assist persons with disabilities become more independent as well as “telepresence” devices among other technologies.

The University of Rhode Island will showcase technologies developed to assist in researching Narragansett Bay.

Researchers from URI will demonstrate a “flapping fin robot” they helped to develop, as well as an autonomous kayak used to do research in Narragansett Bay.

The Robot Block Party is part of National Robotics Week.

Governor Gina Raimondo, an honorary chair for the event, said in a Brown University press release, “Robotics technology will fuel a broad array of products and solutions in manufacturing, health care, agriculture, national defense and transportation. Robots are also an engaging way for young students to learn about science, technology, engineering and math. The second annual Robot Block Party is a fun way to build the skills that prepare our students for the 21st century workforce.”

More than 1,800 people attended last year’s event and the sponsors are preparing for an even larger turnout for this year.

The block party is this Saturday, April 11, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. and will feature family-friendly exhibits and demonstrations. The event is held at the Brown’s Pizzitola Sports Center at Hope Street at Lloyd Avenue, Providence. The event is free to the public, but it is encouraged to register online at and look up the Robotics Block Party.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment