- Cheltenham High School
Go Time for High School Robotics Team
The Cheltenham High School Robotics team Simple Machines (FRC No. 423) has spent the past six weeks gearing up for its initial two FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) qualifying events of the season: March 9-10 at Westtown School in West Chester, Pa., and March 23-24 at Seneca High School in Tabernacle, N.J.
FRC pairs high school students with adult mentors (primarily engineers and teachers) to design and build robots that compete against one another in a high-energy environment. Students learn and use sophisticated hardware and software and develop design, project management, programming, teamwork, and strategic thinking skills.
More than 95,000 high school students representing more than 3,900 teams will compete this spring to claim one of approximately 800 spots in one of two FIRST Championship events in April.
This year’s FRC scenario, DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE, engages two competing alliances which are collecting samples on planet Primus. Unpredictable terrain and weather patterns make remote robot operation essential to their mission on the planet. With only 2:30 until liftoff, the alliances must gather as many cargo pods as possible and prepare their spaceships before the next sandstorm arrives.
Led by junior co-captains Ryan Kahn and Kai Gibbs and safety captain and longest tenured team member senior Leeroy Watson, the team always faces its biggest challenge from the timing aspect of the competition. Team members have six weeks to design and build a 125-pound robot tasked to perform the sample collection. When completed, the robot was four pounds overweight, but the team received six hours out before the competition to bring the robot into weight compliance. With some serious planning, organization and amazing teamwork, the team slimmed the robot to a 122 lbs in three hours, giving the team three extra hours to retest its systems. The rest of the team includes seniors Roderick Ahrens, junior Andrew Moreland, sophomores Venus Agbadan, Elijah Foggie, Zhao Gu Gammage, Owen Hagopian, Lisa Lam, Miriam Rose, Jared Seehusahai, Mia Weisman and freshmen Ben Lee, Chris Nhu, Dustin Thodde.
“If the robot can do all it’s designed to do, we have a very good shot to get into regionals and maybe even win a qualifying tournament,” said club advisor Gloria Weber. “We have had good robots the past few years but have not made it to regionals since 2016.”
The team has numerous mentors, including Weber's co-lead mentor Charlie Affel and Joshua Lynn (who've been with the team since its inception); Marc Kahn and Peter Hagopian, who work at Comcast and helped bring in a Comcast sponsorship; CHS alumni Joshua Lynn and Ben Young; and Brian Moses, who serves as the team's Labview programming mentor.
Cheltenham is heavily invested in the program with six teams in the district. In addition to the high school team, each CSD elementary school has a FIRST Lego League team, and Cedarbrook has a team competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge.