• Dec. 21, 2022

    Robotics team earns Innovate Award

    BotsburghThe Botsburgh robotics team, comprised of nine Upper St. Clair High School students, earned the Innovate Award at the recent Red and Black FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Qualifier on Sunday, Dec. 18 at Coatesville Area High School, near Philadelphia. Team members include senior John Scherer; sophomores Bryan Deep, Cadence Forney, Harsh Mali, Liam Moriarty, Komel Nulwala, Ben Ross, Nikhita Thakuria as well as freshman Aadhi Bharath.

    The Innovate Award celebrates a team that thinks imaginatively and has the ingenuity, creativity, and inventiveness to make their designs come to life. Elements of this award include elegant design, robustness and out-of-the-box thinking related to design.

    “We won the award because we made a TPU module (TPU is plastic with properties that can mimic rubber) that we tied to a winch via fishing line. When the winch tightens, the TPU contracts, which expands the plastic. When the module is placed inside a cone and expands, it can easily pick up said cone,” Nikhita said. “It’s also more stable than a claw because the inherent design prevents the cone from shaking. While other groups made more square designs, we made a triangle robot because it would be more easily maneuverable and faster.”

    Botsburgh was among 16 teams competing at the Red and Black FTC Qualifier. Only the top three teams – first place, second place and the Inspire Award winner – advanced to the Pennsylvania FTC Championship Tournament in March.

    Although Botsburgh did not advance, team members were grateful for the experience and opportunities to improve their robot for future competitions.

    “We are grateful for learning additional ways of improving the robot, such as adding more weight at the bottom, and more practice moving around the field with other robots,” Nikhita said. “Winning the award doesn't mean that it's perfect!”

    The FIRST Tech Challenge program challenges teams of middle and high school-aged students to design, build and program a robot to play a floor game against other teams’ creations. Students develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and sharing ideas. Learn more at www.ftcpenn.org.