Robotics teams fail to advance

While Girard High School’s FIRST Robotics Robocats may have ranked first place overall this weekend, the team was defeated during semifinal rounds.

Girard, along with robotics teams from Warren G. Harding and Austintown Fitch high schools, competed alongside 59 other teams Friday and Saturday at the Miami Valley regional in the Nutter Center at Wright State University in Dayton.

Ashraf Hadi, head build coach for the Girard team, said the Robocats were ranked first throughout the quarterfinals and playoff rounds, advancing to the semifinals where they were defeated competing in alliance with teams from Erie, Pa., and Dublin.

“We got out-strategized in the semifinals,” Hadi said.

“We breezed through quarterfinals, 2-0 in best of the three competition, but were eliminated in semifinals,” said Judy Barber, a robotics team coach.

The Girard team did not come home empty-handed having earned the Industrial Design Quality Award sponsored by General Motors, which recognizes the overall design of the robot and noted how the robot was able to climb onto and cling to a bar helping to boost other robots.

“I felt our team had one of the best robots there. We designed it so it would climb onto a bar and was the only one there able to lift the other robots up,” Hadi said.

Hadi said the award celebrates form and function in an efficiently designed machine.

“The team also was recognized for our ability to play all aspects of the game as well as climb while carrying our other two partners,” Hadi said.

Hadi said at one point, the robot broke down but was quickly able to be fixed.

Because the Robocats did not win a major award or the semifinals at Miami Valley, they will have one more chance at the end of March to advance to the robotics world championships in April.

The team is set to compete March 29-31 at the Buckeye Regional at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland

Hadi said while Girard received first place overall, Hardihg placed 23rd and Austintown placed 43rd.

This is Girard’s 19th season competing with FIRST robotics giving students an opportunity to work with mentors and volunteers from the community in constructing and programming a robot.

The team currently has 19 seniors, which is the most it has had since starting in 1999.

The theme this year is “First Power Up,” which will require the robot picks up square power cubes and places them on a scale and have them balance the scale toward their team to earn the points. The robot also has to be able to pull itself off the ground to earn points.

Members of the Champion High School FIRST Lightning Bots team, which did not compete, watched the other competitors at the Miami Valley regional.

“Watching how the other teams did at Miami Valley Regional in solving the challenge and scoring points gives us a chance to see where our strategy may need to be adjusted,” said Mark McCall, head coach for Champion.

McCall said Champion’s 20-member team will also compete at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland later this month and also at the Midwest Regional April 6-7 in Chicago.

“We look forward to the season,” McCall said noting this is the team’s 12th season.