Whiz Kids’ Ages: Gus Koenecke, III, and Zach Koenecke are 15; Theresa DeFreitas is 16
Whiz Kids’ School: Zach and Theresa attend Brookfield High School. Gus attends Henry Abbott Tech in Danbury
Whiz Kids’ Accomplishment: As representatives of BHS Robotics Team 1099, the DiscoTechs, they won the CT FIRST ShowBot design competition.
Key to Awesomeness: CT FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization that works to inspire students to “discover the excitement and rewards of science and technology.” For the CT FIRST ShowBot Design Competition, teams must “design and build an attention grabbing memorable mobile display to be used to demonstrate and generate excitement about FIRST programs and events.”
Zach, Gus and Theresa met with judges from FIRST Robotics, United Technology Corp., Northeast Utilities, and from the Schools of Engineering of Yale, UCONN and MIT. Their design was picked as the winner from Connecticut. They must now build their robot by December 15. The robot must work, be mobile, be able to be transported in a standard car by a single person, be attention grabbing to a variety of audiences and durable enough to be used by FIRST for three years.
Not only does Team 1099 have to build the robot they designed in the next few weeks, but they need to raise the funds to continue to compete. Toward that end, they are selling Italian Ices every day after school until the end of October. But after winning the Boston Regional two out of the last three years and receiving the Woodie Flowers award, a sort of good sportsmanship award named after an MIT professor who valued “gracious professionalism,” this team is ready for the challenge.
A senior, this is Theresa’s fourth year on the team, her second as captain. She co-wrote the essay that won the team the Woodie Flowers award. Theresa has volunteered at Robotics and Beyond camp for two summers as a mentor. She’s a very active member of BHS’s “Team 17,” which is the videography club. The club tapes and edits community events for Brookfield’s Channel 17. Theresa is also a Big Sister at Huckleberry Elementary and volunteers as a teacher’s assistant in St. Marguerite Bourgeoy’s religious education program. She plans to pursue a career in computer engineering.
Zach is a sophomore at BHS. This is his second year as a member of Team 1099, the DiscoTechs. He’s working on Team 1099’s business plan and keeping an account of their finances from their Italian Ice fundraiser. Zach is also an active bowler and serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Danbury United States Bowling Congress. For the past eight years, he has raised money for the CT Regional Hospice. As an eighth grader, Zach was the recipient of the Superintendant’s Award. This is his third year tutoring at Whisconier Middle School and he is also a member of the BHS Track Team.
Gus is a sophomore at Henry Abbott Technical High School where he is studying manufacturing technology. Last year Gus was recruited by his twin brother, Zach to join Team 1099 and found building the robot reinforced the manufacturing technology principles he’s learning in school. This past May, Gus was interviewed by Aneesh Chopra, the Federal Chief Technology Officer of the United States while at the FIRST Robotics St. Louis World Championship. Gus is a member of the Abbott Tech Rifle Team.