York County robotics team now in world's Top 20
Local robotics team TechFire is prepping for the upcoming World Championship in Detroit. John Pavoncello, 717-505-5449/@Jpavoncello
TechFire Robotics of York is ranked among the top 20 teams in the world following the FIRST national robotics championship.
The team advanced to the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology semifinals April 24-27 in Detroit before it was defeated by an alliance — three teams from Michigan, the Netherlands and Philadelphia — that would go on to win the entire competition, a news release states.
TechFire coach Tom Traina said his students — representing 10 York County schools — felt ready to face the challenge. He highlighted the collective effort of the field players, pit crew and scouts who chose which teams to partner with for alliances.
York County School of Technology student Aislinn Abbott, 17, part of the field team helping the robot place cargo into its rocket ship, said "it gets down to muscle memory," so the teammates can focus on strategy during nationals.
"They really delivered a championship effort," Traina said.
Each team competed in six different divisions, and the winners moved on to a playoff to determine the top two alliances for the final matches at the Detroit Lion's Ford Field.
The national ranking bests last year's performance, when the squad was ranked in the top 50 in the world. Rankings are based on a cumulative review of team collaboration and placement and performance throughout the season, Traina said.
It's TechFire's seventh year in a row qualifying for the event, and the fourth time in five years that the team won the regional championship, according to a news release.
In early April, TechFire placed first out of 129 teams from the Eastern region, advancing with 29 teams to nationals, which included 378 teams from the U.S., Canada and 12 other countries — representing the top 10% of teams in the world, the release states.
Traina said there were some mechanical issues in Detroit with their partners' robots, but "that's the way the world works," and he left feeling very impressed with his students' performance — especially at a high school level.
TechFire builds a FIRST Robotics Competition robot in Jacobus, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017.
The strong finish helped TechFire achieve the top 20 ranking among the almost 3,700 teams that registered for seasonal competitions this year to advance to the Detroit or Houston finals.
Aislinn, who just completed her second year on the team, hopes to make it to the final match at Ford's Field in her senior year.
"It would be amazing to be a part of that," she said.
Next year will be a challenge because the team is losing nine seniors, Traina said, so the focus will be on recruiting younger members to build up the team.
Tech Fire will be at Give Local York's Big Give Day Friday, May 3, and plans to do outreach this summer to recruit for its two community teams, which range from grades 7 through 12.