Park City High School robotics student recognized at FIRST Tech World championships

Valentin Astie, a junior at Park City High School, poses with Dean Kamen, founder of the science and technology education nonprofit FIRST, at a luncheon at the FIRST Tech Challenge World Robotics Championship. Astie was selected as a finalist for an award given out by Kamen.
Courtesy of Laura Monty

While Valentin Astie was putting in the final hours of practice with his team for the FIRST Tech Challenge World Robotics Championship, he received some good news. He was selected as a finalist for the FIRST Dean’s List Award.

Astie, a junior at Park City High School, was one of three students in Utah named as a finalist and one of about 300 students in the world who were recognized. The finalists were invited to attend a banquet at the world championships in Houston last month, where 10 individuals were named as winners of the award. Astie was a finalist but not one of the 10 winners.

During the event, he was able to meet Dean Kamen, the founder of the nonprofit FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and of the motorized vehicle the Segway, which Astie said was an honor. Astie was at the world championships with his team the Robominers, which finished in the top 25 at the competition.

Finalists for the Dean’s List Award are selected because of their leadership abilities, personal accomplishments with FIRST and the amount of outreach that they do for the program, said Laura Monty, a coach for the Robominers.

Monty said she nominated Astie for the award because of the dedication he has for robotics and his team. “He puts so much of his time and effort into it,” she said. “He is very self-effacing and does not give himself credit. … He is by far the most outstanding junior in our program.”

Monty said that Astie has been involved in FIRST robotics even before he could join the team. His older brother was a member of the high school robotics team, and Astie would frequently hang around the team because he was so interested in the work they were doing, she said.

“He was so passionate about learning,” she said.

He started doing robotics in sixth grade and then joined the high school’s team as soon as he could. He has captained two different teams and will be the captain of the Robominers next school year.

Astie appreciated the recognition.

“It’s nice to see that you get rewarded for what you do,” he said. “But what is even better is to see the people you’ve helped.”

One of Astie’s favorite parts about the robotics club is being able to help teach the younger students about what he loves. He volunteers at McPolin Elementary School to teach the students about robotics.

He loves learning about robotics as well, from designing to building to programming to operating them, but he said that the build is often the most rewarding.

“You get to create something and you get to see, in competition, what your robot does. You get that satisfaction out of building your robot that you can’t really get anywhere else,” he said.

Through the experience of working on the robots, he said that his technical abilities have expanded. He hopes to pursue a career in the robotics field, and even more so after hearing from speakers at the Dean’s List Award luncheon who said that they need students like him to work in those fields.

With those words and the recognition that he received, he is even more reassured that he is on the right path.


Park City School District Board of Education hears solutions in wake of state audit

“Focus on the data outcomes, on the academic achievement outcomes, on the rankings that we have. The school board is happy with the direction of the district,” said Andrew Caplan, school board president. “We can always do a better job, especially with things that aren’t our core expertise like building and land management.”

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