• Dec. 22, 2023

    USCHS teams finish second in robotics challenge

    VEX Robotics teamsTwo teams of Upper St. Clair High School robotics students placed second at the Clash at the Castle VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) on Friday, Dec. 15, 2023, at Franklin Junior/Senior High School in Venango County. Both teams now advance to the state competition.

    Team USC Speed (#32219A) is comprised of juniors Chase Dusi, Ryan Hyatt and Ben Schnore. Team USC Atlas (#32219B) includes seniors Anthony Cardello and Emily Neiberg, junior Darcy Vilkner, and sophomore Sofia Alfredson-Themudo. The Upper St. Clair VRC teams are part of the school’s first-year Advanced Robotics course, taught by Tracy Smith.

    In total, 18 teams representing seven high schools from throughout western Pennsylvania competed in the day-long tournament.

    The VEX Robotics Competition consists of a unique game and game elements each season. This season is called "Over Under" and consists of scoring points with triballs and elevating the robot at the end of the competition. During competition, teams always partner with an alliance team and compete against an opposing alliance. Besides competing in the game itself, VRC offers several awards based on robot design, teamwork, documentation and communication skills.

    After a morning of tournament pool play, Upper St. Clair’s two teams formed an alliance. Both teams overcame challenges throughout the day.

    “USC Speed's lead driver fell ill at the last minute and was not able to attend the competition,” Mrs. Smith said. “Teammates Chase and Ben worked together throughout the day, practicing driving and coming up with new roles to lead to a successful day.”

    USC Atlas spent the day improving their robot.

    “They upgraded their autonomous code and added/removed modules based on the strengths of their alliance teams,” Mrs. Smith said. “This led them to a third-place ranking after the morning pool play and the opportunity to pick their sister team, Speed, as their alliance partner in the finals.”

    The VEX Robotics Competition is one of many robotics competitions available to students locally. This competition requires students to use VEX V5 robotics materials to compete. The VEX kits are currently used in at least three Upper St. Clair High School courses, including Technology Now & Tomorrow (TNT), Intermediate Robotics and Advanced Robotics.

    The Pennsylvania VRC High School State Championship is set for March 2, 2024, at Norristown Area High School.