Class Act: Billerica Robot Engineer

BILLERICA, MA (WHDH) - Today’s Class Act is a student who’s on track to really make a difference in the world.  He’s from Locke Middle School in Billerica — and right now he’s gearing up his team of robot engineers for a regional competition

“The challenge is to get stars and boxes over the fences,” said Christian So.  He’s a leader on the award-winning Locke Monsters Robotics team at Locke Middle School in Billerica.

“Christian is really helpful, he helps a lot,” said teammate Kierstan Hamilton.  “He’s taught us everything that I know because this is my first year of robotics.”

Teammate Ethan Truong  said “He showed me there’s many different ways to interpret the robot.”

Christian and the Locke Monsters spend hours researching, designing and building robots. Last year, they went all the way to the world championships in Kentucky.

“It’s quite the experience because you see how other people have interpreted the challenge, across the world, and you’re seeing things you never have thought of,” said Christian.

He is friendly, a little shy in public, but it doesn’t stop him from leading a world-class team.

“He’s one of the best guys to go to, he helps everyone out on the team.” said teammate Jake Amato.

Christian’s also a world champion in the martial art of Taekwondo, which helped him in robotics.

“It’s definitely leadership I learned from martial arts,” he said. “You have to be disciplined to do all of the skills you do, in martial arts.”

Because of those two skills — and for being a great person — Christian So is a Class Act.

“I wasn’t expecting you to call out my name,” he said.

Two weeks ago, Christian was at a Taekwondo meet in Chicago — and at the same time, the Locke Monsters were competing here in Massachusetts without Christian — and the robot broke down –one of the wheels jammed.

“The motor stopped working– the gear inside of it scraped and it wouldn’t work,” said Jake

“I was panicking back then, because I didn’t know what was going on,” said Ethan.

They knew who would have an answer. Using their smart phone’s camera, they called Christian on Face Time.

“We explained everything that was going on with it — we told him what we think was the problem — and he guided us through it,” said Jake.

“They put his camera toward the robot,” said Maureen Parker, robotics teacher.  “And they said, what do we do?  And you could hear him telling them, and I walked over and I said, what’s happening, and they turned him around and he’s like, ‘Hi Mrs. Parker.'”

They fixed the robot, thanks to FaceTime and Christian’s guidance.

“That shows a lot of trust in my team.  That they can do everything,” Christian said.

The Locke Monsters are ready for another competition.  On Saturday, February 25th, they’ll be in Framingham for regionals.  If they do well there, it’s on to the World Championship in Kentucky in April!

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