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The Southern Maryland robotics team, FIRST Team 836 the RoboBees, won the Regional Chairman’s Award for the third year in a row at the Palmetto Regional Tournament, held Feb. 28 to March 2 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The award qualifies the team to advance to the FIRST World Robotics Championships to be held in St. Louis, Mo., on April 25 to 28.

The Chairman’s Award “honors the team that, in the judges’ estimation, best represents a model for other teams to emulate, and which embodies the goals and purpose of FIRST.” Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), said its mission is “to transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.”

This year’s competition at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center included 65 teams and involved the building and control of robots that could shoot Frisbees and then climb a 10-foot tall, three-level pyramid in less than 30 seconds.

In addition to the Regional Chairman’s Award, the RoboBees also won the Entrepreneurship Award and the team’s robot finished as a finalist in the tournament. The team is now preparing for its next regional qualifier in Washington, D.C., later this month, followed by its third trip to championships in April.

The team includes students from all the high schools in the county, as well as home-schooled students. Dave Buddenbohn, an engineering instructor at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center in Leonardtown, is the team’s lead mentor.

“The team performed very well,” Buddenbohn said. “I am very proud of them and their accomplishments.”

The RoboBees are now looking for a strong showing at the world championships, hoping that third time’s the charm.

Sponsors for the team are BAE Systems, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, The Patuxent Partnership, AUVSI, SAIC, Triton Metals, and NAVAIR, along with family, friends and fans of the team members.

More information about the team can be found at