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Ohio High School Robotics Team Qualifies for Robotics World Championship

POSTED 04/06/2022

By: Scott Truxell, independent editor

Members of the Van Wert High School Robotics Club make repairs between matches in Cleveland on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Zane McElroy

The Van Wert High School Robotics team earned top honors in the big robot division at the Buckeye Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center this past weekend by capturing the prestigious Engineering Inspiration Award, which “celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school or organization and community.” 50 teams from Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania took part in the weekend competition in downtown Cleveland and by winning the award, the Cougars automatically qualified for the World Championships in Houston, where over 30 counties and 400 FRC robotics teams will compete. The event is scheduled for April 20-23.

Like many teams, the Cougars had to endure a canceled 2020 COVID-19 season and in 2020-2021, the season was entirely remote. “Our students have had to overcome a lot over these past two years and to say we are proud of them is an understatement,” Van Wert High School Robotics coach Zane McElroy said. “This season, we had hopes of a normal/in-person season with our smaller robots only to have it go remote and our competitions turned into in-person scrimmages. Our students never let this get to them and worked tirelessly at competing in scrimmages while remotely qualifying for state and building their larger robot for their in-person FRC tournament.” McElroy noted the team put in countless hours to prepare for the FRC tournament and regionals in Cleveland.

“It takes all of our members split into our scout team, public relations team, pit crew, and drive team to make this a success, and to say they all rocked it is an understatement,” McElroy explained. “We are very proud of them and beyond blessed to be able to compete one more time with them at the World Championships in Houston. Van Wert High School Principal Bob Priest attended the regionals in Cleveland and noted how pleased he was to see team members using their various skills, including thinking “on the fly.” “Once the competition has ended the robot is brought back to the pit and while there, students examine the robot and make immediate repairs,” Priest noted. “Once they are done, they step out, and other students examine their section of the robot. At the same time, scouting information is being brought down from the students who were assigned to scout robots for future matches. These robots include those who will be with our alliance and those we will face.” “That data is interpreted and put into the computer, where an analysis is compiled, printed, and dispersed amongst the team,” Priest continued. “Discussions are had amongst our team and then they venture out to speak with members of other teams. All the while this is taking place, we have team members who are greeting people and explaining what our program is all about. This is so very impressive and in fact, how we won a trip to the World Championships.”

McElroy said the team plans on leaving for Houston at the beginning of the week of April 18. Inspections and practice matches will take place on Wednesday, April 20, followed by qualification and elimination matches for the next three days.

He also praised parents, the community, Van Wert City Schools, Vantage Career Center, and sponsors who helped support the team throughout the season.

The list of sponsors supporting the Van Wert High School Robotics Team includes The Van Wert County Foundation, NASA, Central Insurance, Alliance Automation, Van Wert Federal, 1st Federal of Van Wert, StateWide Ford Lincoln, Citizens National Bank, Tenneco, Walmart, Vancrest, Honda, UNOH, Advanced Biological Marketing, and Danfoss.