Pakistani & Indian American Robotics Team Wins Honors at First Technical Challenge World Championships
By Tahir Ali  

 Westborough, MA: In April, 10,000plus students from around the globe traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, to put their custom-built robots and engineering skills to the test at the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship.

The annual programs culminate in an international robotics competition and celebration where teams win recognition, gain self-confidence, develop people and life skills, make new friends, and perhaps discover an unforeseen career path.

The FIRST Championship is the culmination of the season's FIRST programs, bringing together three separate robotics competitions for the ultimate Sport for the MindT. The event includes the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Championship, the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship, and the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) World Festival.  

Sprockets, a team of high school students residing in Westborough, Shrewsbury, participated in the First Technical Challenge (FTC) world championships this year.

Teams advance from local qualifying tournaments to state championship tournaments, before advancing to the World Championship Tournament. This year, 2500 teams participated, out of which only 128 teams qualified for world championship. There were only three teams from Massachusetts that qualified. Sprockets was one of them.

FTC is designed for head-to-head competition. Teams use a combination of motors, controllers, wireless communications, metal gears and sensors to design, build and program robots to compete in an Alliance format against other teams. The object of this year's game was to score more points than an opponent by placing plastic rings on to pegs on a center rack.

"The Judges were really impressed with 'Sprockets' teamwork, and awarded them with 'You Inspired Me' button to recognize their efforts and bringing Robotics interests to the community," noted coach and mentor Zakir Magdum. The team members are Mustafa Khan, Usmann Khan and Faraz Ilyas attending St. John's High School in Shrewsbury, Moni Balaparya attending Westboro High School, Arham Balaparya attending Shrewsbury High School and Ashraf Magdumattending Advanced Science and Math Academy in Marlboro.

The 'Sprockets' are mentored and coached by Zakir Magdum originally from India and Dr. Mansoor Khan originally from Pakistan. They are both residents of Shrewsbury. They have helped them develop engineering skills most students don't receive until college, including the use of computer-assisted design programs, prototyping, building and sophisticated programming skills.

According to Dr Khan, "Earlier in the year the team was part of the winning alliance at First Technical Challenge state championships at Bridgewater MA. Our team also won Motivate award at the Andover qualifier tournament."

Reportedly there were participants from 17 countries: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, India, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, United States.

The US teams won the FTC world championship.

It is a proud moment for Drs Mansoor and Fauzia Khan, Mohammad and Farzana Ilyas, Zakir and Shameem Magdum, Hanif and Shahida Balaparya, Mushtaq and Shanaaz Balaparya - the team's parents, for the residents of Shrewsbury and Westborough and for the commonwealth of Massachusetts.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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