Senior John Riley’s Summer of STEM at WPI

Huntington senior John Riley participated in a summer engineering program at WPI.

September 13, 2017

Sit down and have a conversation with John Riley and when it’s over, you will walk away believing the Huntington High School senior can do anything. Yes, he inspires that level of confidence.

Mr. Riley is the chief technology officer of Huntington Robotics, the high school’s robotics team that has made a habit of qualifying for the national championships. If preparation is the key to success then this teenager is headed for a magical future.

While folks of all ages like to take it down a notch during the summer, Mr. Riley did just the opposite. He spent two weeks on Worchester Polytechnic Institute’s Massachusetts campus participating in the school’s Frontiers pre-collegiate program.

John Riley.
Huntington senior John Riley.

Experiencing dorm life, dining hall cuisine and the general college atmosphere was educational in and of itself. Throw in the Frontiers program’s focus on testing students’ knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and you start to get an idea of how Mr. Riley’s challenged himself during the summer vacation.

The Huntington senior took college classes in robotics engineering and the history of technology and he thoroughly enjoyed both of them. “I decided to participate in Frontiers so I could take robotics in a college setting,” Mr. Riley said

Along with a pair of teammates, Mr. Riley was charged with building a robot that could pick up model eggs, navigate a field and climb a perch while fending off its competitors. The team had just four days to complete the design, construction and programming of the robot. The competition was the culminating event of the program and took place in front of an audience comprised of parents, faculty members and program attendees.

Mr. Riley brought his magic to WPI as his team came in first place in a field of 17 teams. What impressed the professors most was a twisted axel on the robot caused by the strength of the design of the main mechanism. Since this had never been seen before, it was placed in WPI’s Robotics Engineering Hall of Fame display case.

“I was excited that the robot was so successful in competition, but even happier to make my mark at WPI,” Mr. Riley said. “It was an honor to be recognized and I am confident that I can apply the skills I learned while at Frontiers to our upcoming season of robotics at Huntington High School.”

Among Mr. Riley’s senior year classes are Advanced Placement Physics, AP US Government and Politics, Pre-Calculus AB Honors, and Computer Integrated Manufacturing/Robotics, a class offered in collaboration with Project Lead the Way where students can also earn college credit through Rochester Institute of Technology.

In addition to his role as Huntington Robotics’ chief technology officer, Mr. Riley’s senior year will also see him working closely with Social Studies Honor Society faculty advisor Kenneth Donovan as treasurer of the organization. Always interested in making his community a better place, the teenager will also be serving as an adult leader with the same Boy Scout troop through which he earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 2014.

Mr. Riley has already made the rounds of many Northeast region colleges with engineering programs. He plans to pursue an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and/or robotics engineering.

Boynton Hall at Worchester Polytechnic Institute.
Boynton Hall at Worchester Polytechnic Institute.
John Riley (right) with his teammates at WPI
John Riley (right) with his teammates at WPI this past summer.
John Riley's team's robot made WPI’s Robotics Engineering Hall of Fame display case.
John Riley's team's robot made WPI’s Robotics Engineering Hall of Fame display case.