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Robotics Competition Held at Livingston High School

Eric Paragallo

Thursday, January 9, 2014 • 6:55am

LIVINGSTON, NJ – Livingston High School hosted a New Jersey qualifier tournament on Sunday for the High School level state FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics championship to be held at NJIT in March.

FIRST’s mission is “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”

Of the 30 teams from various high schools across Northern New Jersey that pitted their originally designed robots against each other, seven teams qualified. They included the Radioactive Raiders of New Brunswick High School, Team Mercury of Hightstown High School, Fear the Gear of Chatham High School, High Voltage of Bayonne High School, the Montclair Momentum of Montclair High School, and both Fatal Error and The Game of Pope John XXIII Regional High School.

Although Livingston High School has a robotics team of its own, the Lancers, they did not compete in Sunday’s tournament because they had already qualified last month at Columbia High School.

At the tournament last month, Livingston bowed out in the semi-final round where mechanical problems beset their robot. For their impressive performance, though, The Lancers were nominated for five awards and awarded the Think Award for having the best documentation and engineering logbook. In addition, the Lancers were selected as the runner-up for the Inspire Award. 

As with every FIRST High School level robotics competition, Sunday’s tournament was broken up into a series of rounds where two separate robots were randomly selected to join forces against two other randomly selected robots. In each round the four robots would be placed in a very large box where the students would remote control their robots to perform a series of tasks to gain points. The tasks included: placing blocks into a crate, parking in a designated location and raising a flag up a pole. The teams with the most points at the end of each round won the round.  

Early in the tournament, Travis Benedicf of the MFS Hawks robotics team and a student at Moorestown Friends School, was waiting with his team and their robot at the queue station for their first matchup of the day. Although, by the days’ end, his team did not advance, Renedicf said that win or lose he was just happy to be present at the competition. “The whole experience of putting together a robot and competing has been a really great learning experience. We’ve really learned so much from a tech standpoint and a competitive standpoint from it.”

Joe, a member of the Watt the Hex Robotics team and a student at Edison High School, said that the greatest thing he learned from preparing and building a robot for the FIRST tournament was patience. “Sometimes things don’t work and you have to go back and scrap all your plans. [When that happens] you just have to be patient until you get things working the way you want them to.” The Watt the Hex team did not advance, however they were runners up for the PTC Design Award.

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