New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | February 24, 2024

New Kent robotics team builds confidence, connections to life

By Robb Johnson | November 25, 2019 11:36 pm

New Kent's robotics team gears up for its first competition on Dec. 14 in Newport News.

Robb Johnson photos

The field of robotics is a trend that has grown so exponentially that the Virginia High School League is considering making it a formal competition. In New Kent, one man is looking to put those kids interested in the field on the right path to be successful before they enter the upper grades.

Randy Hintz is the head coach of a New Kent-based robotics team. Hintz currently has 11 kids on the team, including son Michael.

Hintz relocated to New Kent seven years ago from Mechanicsville. While in his former home, he was involved with First Tech Challenge Robotics, a robotics team made up of middle and high school age children. Along with his son, they traveled 40 minutes to participate in the event. From there, Hintz took those experiences to start a team of his own within New Kent.

“A lot of these tech kids come in as youngsters and they don’t see their place in the world or they don’t make friends as easily,” said Hintz. “When you get them in this type of environment, they blossom and it’s absolutely thrilling to watch that.”

“I feel that I have gotten much better at public speaking,” said Michael Hintz. “I also feel that I’ve gotten better on the math side and I have gotten use to working with numbers, especially decimal numbers.”

So far, the New Kent team have received positive reviews from the community. That influx has resulted in team sponsors that will assist them in events, such as the team’s first competition on Dec. 14 at Hermitage High School in Newport News.

“Half of our sponsors are right here from New Kent and it shows the closeness of the community,” Hintz said. “It gives confidence that the locals believe in.”

As for the team, they use three-hour windows to work on their craft three days a week at New Elam Baptist Church. The players are required to log all of their content at meetings. Members are designated to offer different stations that include programming, 3-D printing, CAD-computer adied design, and building. From there, the team navigate a robot between the confines of a 12×12 foot platform to stack stones.

“Every detail is critical in making the team a success,” Hintz said, pointing to reading the instructional manual. “Reviewing the information is important to understand because just like any team, this takes major practice.”

With the robotics scene on the rise, Hintz is hoping that a stronger message is passed on through the community.

“This is the coming together of different people from different background, people who look different and people who sound different,” he said as he wrapped up the interview. “The only goal is to make young people great.

“We went from six players to eleven, and though things were rocky, trust that everyone would do their job and the confidence in everyone has risen.”

Team members navigate a robot within a 12x12 foot arena.

Team members navigate a robot within a 12×12 foot arena.