AUSTINTOWN – Although the new season for FIRST Robotics didn’t start until January, 19 teams from Ohio and Pennsylvania competed Sunday in an off-season friendly training event at Austintown Middle School.
FIRST, an acronym for “Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” teams build and program robots to complete assigned tasks and challenges,
Andy Yants, coach of the robotics team at Austin Town Fitch High School Falco Tech, said Sunday’s event allowed teams, especially new members, to see and experience competition in preparation for the upcoming season in 2023.
He said the teams will meet in early January when they will challenge for the 2023 season and then build bots for in-state and out-of-state competitions in March and April.
“Students get really addicted to robotics competitions. The robotics program is very exciting and gives them a lot of opportunities. It’s amazing to see what students can do when they build and program a robot to go to competitions,” said Yants.
Warren Harding coach Frank Bussack said Warren’s ELITE 48 team won Sunday’s competition along with Pepper Pike’s Team 1787, Flying Circuits and Canfield’s 4601 team, Circuit Birds.
Harding’s team mentor Travis Hoffman said the team is in its 25th year with this weekend’s event allowing new team members to get an idea of what the competitions are all about.
They see what it’s all about before they build their robots in January, which will be the start of Harding’s 26th season. “Today’s event is structured like a formal event where bots have to complete tasks to score points,” Hoffman said.
Other off-season competitions will be held locally and in Cleveland throughout the fall, said Jodi Barber O’Brien, consultant for the Girard FIRST Robotics Robocats.
O’Brien said the Girard High School FIRST Robotics Aptiv team came home from Cleveland’s off-season competition against 24 other teams two weeks ago at the Curiosity Open held at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland.
The 379th first robotics team, The Aptiv RoboCats, from Girard High School, were the leaders of their alliance with teams from Pepper Pike and from Hathaway Brown School for Girls in Shaker Heights.
RoboCats have 13 rookies on this year’s 27-member team.
The challenge of Sunday’s event was for the robots to collect the red and blue balls in the play area and launch them into a “hub” or a large container. Every robot needs to stretch and extend the arms, climb and hang.
The local event is fun and less stressful than the much larger regional events with more competing teams, said Ren Rohrer, a junior and three-year member of Harding’s team.
“I love being here because it is such a welcoming and friendly event.” She said.
John Bancroft, Community Industry Mentor for Team Harding, said team members are working to get back up to speed after the time lost due to COVID-19.
“During COVID we lost a lot of skills, so we are rebuilding the team,” he said.
Gavin Precorato, a senior and four-year Austintown cast member, said he keeps coming back to the team for fun.
“You learn a lot, and being in competitions is so much fun.” He said,
Howland High School has a new robotics team wrapping up its first year.
With the season kicking off in January, the new team can get training and experience in off-season events, said Dave Siegfried, team advisor to Howland FIRST Tigerbotics and engineer at Aptiv.
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