For one Vermont high school student, attending a robotics world championship became more than just a way to connect with tech-minded peers and observe state-of-the-art robots in action. It also offered a chance to network with innovative tech experts and land a summer opportunity with a prestigious tech company.
Seventeen-year-old Henry Kasulka of East Montpelier will start work at Beta Technologies in South Burlington on June 27. He was accepted into the High School Job Shadow program after connecting with CEO and founder Kyle Clark at the 2022 FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship in Houston, Texas, in April.
Henry was selected as one of two state finalists for the FIRST Tech Challenge Dean’s List Award, earning him a trip to the world championships. The award is presented by the Dean Kamen family to a select number of outstanding sophomores and juniors each year to recognize their leadership abilities, technical expertise and accomplishments in robotics.
Henry has taken part in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics for nine years. His current robotics program, FIRST Tech Challenge, is managed by University of Vermont (UVM) College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences with support from UVM Extension 4-H.
He founded his own team, Bubbert Innovations, two years ago at U-32 Middle and High School in Montpelier, where he is just finishing up his junior year. He’s also completed an internship with Palo Alto-based Inspirit AI, an organization dedicated to teaching high school students around the globe about the importance of AI and how to create it.
So it’s no surprise that his passion, experience and expertise in technology impressed Kyle Clark, a presenter at the Dean’s List Awards ceremony. During a conversation initiated by Henry after the ceremony, Clark offered him this summer work experience.
Although meeting with Clark was a definite highlight, Henry also enjoyed serving as a Student Ambassador, giving tours of the facility and talks about FIRST to distinguished guests at the event, which attracted 800 students from 43 countries. He volunteered to be the referees’ “right-hand man,” resetting the field after each match for the FIRST Lego League program competition for younger students.
Although passionate about robotics, that’s not his only interest. Henry currently competes on his high school’s math team and in shot put, javelin and discus on the track team. He also is active with his school’s Stage 32 Theater, handling the lighting, sound and videography for theatrical productions.
Next year he will take part in Vermont’s Early College program at Norwich University to study electrical engineering. He plans to major in computer engineering with the end goal of specializing in robotic technology. But he hasn’t ruled out a career involving business and entrepreneurship, something he is certain to explore this summer.
But Henry has one more immediate goal. And that is to take his team to the world championships next year.