Tyranosaucer Rex is terrorizing the robot world again.
The Frisbee-flinging, student-designed, remote-controlled robot has helped York TechFire 225's team advance to the world scholastic robot building championships known as FIRST. That's short for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.
The team, made up of high schoolers from around York and Lancaster counties, made it to the semi-finals of the Mid-Atlantic Robotics Region Championships in Allentown earlier this month in a blended competition of robot design and game strategy. That regional performance, combined with a previous district-level win in Philadelphia, gave them enough points to advance to the worldwide competition in St. Louis on April 24-27 for the first time in team history.
The district level win was "huge," said Vicki Rispoli, a team organizer and mother of two team members, as it gave TechFire enough of an early point advantage to overcome the semifinal loss at the regionals. It also should help in recruitment for future years, Rispoli added.
"This will really help build the team," Rispoli said.
At the regionals, TechFire was awarded the Xerox Creativity Award for "creative design, in process, execution, or via a creative or unique strategy of play."
According to the team's site, TechFire builds a robot each year to compete in the annual event purely out of the love of engineering, robots, teamwork and the fun of a varsity sport-esque competition complete with screaming fans. It's all volunteer, including the coaches.
How it works: The teams of students have only six weeks to design and build the robots that must be able to do that year's assigned task -- this year it is flinging Frisbees across a room into a target area.
The robots are big, measuring several feet high, and are operated by remote control. Several teams at a time compete on an enclosed court, all trying either to shoot Frisbees toward their respective target areas or block opponents from getting to a good shooting spot during a 2-minute, 15-second match. York's "TyranoSaucer Rex" has been dominant with its precise shooting, according to the team.
Top point scorers advance to higher levels, with the world event this year in St. Louis. TechFire 225 has students from Central, Dallastown, Eastern, Southern, South Eastern and Hempfield school districts and York Country Day, Penn Manor and home schools.
There's little time to raise funds to cover the $5,000 entry fee and travel costs. Some of the money has been raised, but the team is hoping to get more corporate sponsors, Rispoli said. Sponsorship information is available at www.techfire225.com.
About the York TechFire 225 Team: Students participating in York TechFire 225's robotics team include: Jacob Bryan, Elijah Leiphart, Katie Kline, Collin Enders, Owen Billet, Wren Hensgen, Gideon Miles, Andrew Lobos, Mitch Skiles, Tom Sowers, Gracie Putnam, Bethany Rispoli, Zachary Rispoli, Ryan Pizzirusso, Justin Quackenbush, Ben Thomas, Richard Skinner and Sam Albright.
Volunteer mentors include: Matt Kline, Ben Martin, Jack Parker, Leon Lobos, Domenic Pizzirusso, Paul Quackenbush, Victoria Rispoli, Damion Rispoli, Michael Kline, Samuel Albright, Brenda Putnam and Phil Sutter.
For more information on the team and sponsorship, go to www.techfire225.com.
-- Reach Andrew Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org