Conestoga Robotics team qualifies for world championship

By Audrey Kim, Staff Reporter

On March 4, students in Conestoga’s robotics club participated in the VRC Spin-Up High School East Pennsylvania State Championship at Norristown Area High School. 70 teams participated overall, with five Conestoga teams qualifying for the competition.

“When my team qualified for states, I felt relieved and excited because we were running out of time and because we had a chance of advancing,” freshman Aryan Gupta from team 6121B said. “It’s basically a normal competition but the stakes are higher because we only have one chance to advance further.”

When preparing for this competition, the Conestoga teams looked back on their past competitions. Club members also built their robots several times, attempting to beat their previous performance.

“Our greatest time commitment in preparing for states was coding for a category called programming skills, where the robot is programmed to score as many points as possible autonomously,” freshman Will Scheidt from 6121C said. “This includes positioning the robot to fire discs into a goal after sucking them into the robot, similar to a real match.”

In the competition, participants compete in head-to-head games with their opponents. Robots aim to score goals into the high goal, which earns them five points. If the robot places a disc slightly lower than the high goal, it falls in the low goal, which scores one point for the opposing side. 

Robots can also spin rollers, which have the two opposing teams’ colors on each side. For example, if the roller is facing the blue side, the blue team owns that particular roller. At the end of the match, teams will get an additional 3 points for each tile their robot is covering. The objective of the game is to gain as many points as possible by scoring goals, owning rollers and covering tiles on the field.

“Competitions have both an initial and tournament stage, and are super stressful as the day progresses,” Scheidt said. “The biggest challenges presented by these events are physical bot repairs, code debugging, plus just the mental tax of staying alert for the whole day.”

Team 6121C qualified for the World Championship, winning the Eastern Pennsylvania’s Robotics Skills Champion award. They had an overall score of 457, earning themselves the highest skill score in Pennsylvania and 18th spot on the global leaderboard. They will advance to the 2023 VEX Robotics World Championship, which will be held in Dallas, Texas throughout April 25-27. 

When we hit a high score in our last run, I ran over to my co-captain and we yelled and hugged in relief. I began crying tears of joy as all of our stress and tension had been waved away. Words cannot describe this moment.

— Aditya Kothari, Co-Captain of 6121C

Audrey Kim can be reached at [email protected].