John Riley is the type of guy who naturally inspires confidence. It goes beyond just being smart. He’s downright ingenious. Throw in resourceful, fearless and a willingness to spend whatever amount of time that any challenge requires and you start to get an idea of why the Huntington High School senior is so highly regarded by his classmates and the entire faculty.
Mr. Riley is most closely identified with the Huntington robotics program, but his accomplishments and interests go far beyond that team. The teenager is headed to Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the fall to study engineering.
Huntington High School senior John Riley
“When I started my college search in the fall of 2016, Worcester Polytechnic Institute was the first campus I visited,” Mr. Riley said. “Immediately, I knew it was the school for me. Its hometown feel as well as its proximity to Boston was appealing. But most exciting was the fact that WPI already had an established robotics engineering program. It is one of the first institutions in the nation to offer a bachelor degree in robotics engineering, which I’m considering as a possible major.”
Mr. Riley likes how WPI emphasizes hands-on project based learning. “As a member of the 2022 class, I will be participating in WPI’s Global Projects Program whereby I will research and implement a project at one of WPI’s 40 plus project centers located throughout six continents. Being able to visit a distant community, learning about its culture and working cooperatively to solve a problem is meaningful to me and something I look forward to undertaking.”
The Huntington senior plans to eventually pursue a career as an engineer. “While at WPI, I will study both robotics and mechanical engineering and eventually decide which to major in,” Mr. Riley said. “My dream job is to work at a tech company.”
The teenager applied at WPI as an early action candidate. Once accepted by the college he quickly committed before the start of the new year. “This took of a lot of pressure off me,” Mr. Riley said. He earlier considered the engineering programs at Rochester Institute of Technology, Clarkson University and the University at Buffalo.
Mr. Riley has had a taste of many after school activities at the high school, including the track team and the stage crew. But he will always be remembered as a driving force behind the robotics team’s success. He’s served as head mechanical technician and chief technology officer and has a larger than life personality around the group.
The senior has been a regular participant in the high school’s Relay For Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, serving on the organizing committee for this year’s event. His Rays of Hope team’s smoothies booth typically has a line of customers at it. Mr. Riley is widely known to make a great smoothie himself. “I think after last weekend’s event, I probably have served 1,000 of them,” he said.
An Eagle Scout at the young age of just 14, Mr. Riley’s lives his life by the Scout motto; “Be Prepared.” Just ask his teachers.
The teenager’s senior year academic schedule has included Advanced Placement Physics, Pre-Calculus AB Honors, AP Government and Politics, Humanities, CIM Robotics, Orchestra and a credit bearing internship with technology teacher Brian Reynolds.
“I have been fortunate to have established good, and in many instances, meaningful relationships with most of my teachers throughout the years,” Mr. Riley said. “I don’t feel it’s fair to call out favorites since so many of them have helped me to get to this point in my educational career. However, I would like to acknowledge Mr. Brian Reynolds for his help, guidance and mentorship over the past six years. He has inspired me to pursue engineering.”
It’s not surprising that a young man who is as accomplished as Mr. Riley has enjoyed many highlights over the past four years, including being a member of the drive team that reached the FIRST Robotics World Championships three consecutive years and captured the New York City regional competition in 2016.
Winning first place in the National History Day contest three straight years produced still more unforgettable memories. The first place awards “recognized the work and effort I put into each of the documentaries I made,” Mr. Riley said.
A private trip coordinated by EF Tours to the Galapagos Islands with many of his classmates during a February school vacation was something that had been on Mr. Riley’s bucket list for a long time. He was happy to be able to check it off last year.
“Being able to explore where Darwin discovered his theory of evolution was amazing,” said Mr. Riley about the trek to the Galapagos. “I loved how the islands are protected to keep them as much as possible in their natural state. I hope to go back again one day.”
With his magnificent four year high school run nearing its end, Mr. Riley is eyeing a new set of goals for his time at WPI. Considering his legendary work ethic and enormous intellect, success seems assured for the Huntington senior.