• Feb. 7, 2020

    Robotics team advances to state championship

    Botsburgh A team of Upper St. Clair High School students – Botsburgh #11792 – has qualified to compete at the Pennsylvania FIRST Tech Challenge Championship on Feb. 29 and March 1, 2020, at Red Lion Area Senior High School, located near York, Pa. Team members include junior Nathan Scher; sophomores Varun Damarla, Sambhav Saggi, Sujay Shah, Nitish Sharma; and freshman Sahil Bhalodia. The students are coached by Hunaid Nulwala, Ph.D., Ketan Shah and Alan Scher as well as Upper St. Clair senior Moez Nulwala, who serves as a mentor.

    The FIRST Tech Challenge is an international robotics competition for students in grades seven through 12. As a team the students design, build and program a robot that meets various challenges in the game posed by FIRST (www.firstinspires.org).

    Botsburgh qualified for the state competition by placing third in the Inspire Award category at the West Central Pennsylvania Qualifier on Dec. 7, 2019, in Johnstown. The team was recognized for hosting several community events at the Upper St. Clair Township Library aimed at introducing Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) to young children. Efforts included a robot petting zoo and city maker events. In addition, the team was lauded for developing a modular approach to programming that simplified the Java code. The team placed this code under the MIT license, and it is available for free on github.com.

    According to the FIRST Tech Challenge tournament website, “the Inspire Award is presented to the Team that the Judges felt truly embodied the 'challenge' of the FIRST Tech Challenge program. The Team that receives this award is a strong ambassador for FIRST programs and works to promote FIRST and make it loud in their community.”

    Botsburgh Most recently, Botsburgh earned the Collins Aerospace Innovation Award at the Blue & White Qualifier. Approximately 25 teams from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware competed in the day-long event on Jan. 19, 2020.

    According to the tournament website, “the Collins Aerospace Innovate Award celebrates a team that has the ingenuity and inventiveness to make their designs come to life. This award is given to the team that the Judges feel has the most innovative and creative robot design solution to the FIRST Tech Challenge game.”

    The judges praised the team’s use of semiconductor nanoparticles also known as quantum dots to improve their sensors.

    “The judges were impressed with this team's use of sensors. Like every busy robotics team, they didn't want to get overextended. They knew that all their robot needed was a red dot to hit the spot,” the judges wrote.

    Materials for the sensors were provided by two local advance materials technology startups, Liquid Ion Solutions LLC and Crystal Plex Corporation.