Suffern Robotics Wins Berth in First Tech Challenge World Championship

Posted by  Richard Gandon   in  , , , ,      1 year ago     1999 Views     Leave your thoughts  

T-Shirt Fundraiser Launched to Raise Much Needed Funds for World Championship Run

Imagine if you will a Renaissance Faire with all of its pomp and pageantry; add in some of the most brilliant young minds in the country; tomorrow’s designers, programmers, engineers, writers & scientists and of course their amazing robots and you’ve arrived at a First Tech Challenge Competition.

Pink and orange wigs, mascots, cow-print pants, funky hats, gladiators and all manner of dress are the accepted norm as many teams forego traditional team uniforms for gear that better reflects their personalities. Each team, in addition to representing an organization, often a high school, also has a nickname such as the Gorillabots or Dragonoids and most uniforms are extremely creative to say the least.  Suffern’s team wears white embroidered lab coats and are all business however their nicknames, mostly from the Lord of the Rings series reveal their individuality—case in point, their coach, Suffern High School math teacher George Mugno is appropriately referred to as Gandalf and it’s embroidered on his lab coat.

Suffern High School’s Robotics Team ‘Erebor’ traveled to Scranton, PA recently after earning a berth in the East Super Regional Championship Tournament which pitted 72 teams from Maine to Virginia in two divisions.

The matches take place on a 12’ x 12’ field with a padded floor and 12″ high walls.  There are goals on the playing surface marked with colored tape and two ‘mountains’ opposite each other with cross bars and a hanging bar.  There are various ways to score points during each two minute, thirty second match which starts with a 30 second autonomous mode where the robot runs a program followed by two minutes where each team’s two drivers take control via remote control.

Each contest pits two blue teams and two red teams that work together to earn the points and the win or the loss.

Suffern got out to a decent early start in their division on Day 1 and at one point were as high as fourth out of 36 teams in their division.

During one of their matches they lost a wheel as the entire hub on the 3-D printed wheel broke.  The drivers made a valiant three-wheeled effort to try to grab the hang bar however they fell short.

A hurried race back to the pit area led to a wheel being retrofitted and attached to the robot followed by the team rushing back to the staging area to await their next match.

“Despite several hardware set backs and yo-yo’ing up and down in the standings, the excellent design and incredible work ethic of the team saw them through to the FTC World Championship in St. Louis.  I couldn’t be more proud of this group of engineers” said coach George Mugno.

In a world where winning at all costs has become the norm, First Tech Challenge Robotics teams act with gracious professionalism and actually assist one another as sportsmanship and cooperation seem to be important hallmarks. Throughout the competition, announcements were made in the pit area requesting spare parts and/or software.  Amazingly teams were more than willing to help their competitors.

Unlike many competitions where point totals make or break a team, First Tech Challenge competitions also recognize the hard work and dedication that go into the design and build of each robot.  Suffern’s robotics’ team advances to the World Championship in St. Louis April 27 – 30 by placing second for the PTC Design Award. According to the website: This judged award recognizes design elements of the robot that are both functional and aesthetic. All successful robots have innovative design aspects; however, the PTC Design Award is presented to teams that incorporate industrial design elements into their solution.

This marks Suffern’s third trip to the World Championships in the nine years since the team was formed.  The World Championships will host 900 teams from 39 countries and the teams will compete in front of more than 40,000 fans over four days.

Best of luck in St. Louis Suffern!!

Click here to order a very cool #SuffernvsWorld t-shirt.  ALL profits go toward their trip to the World Championship in St. Louis.


Richard Gandon is the Owner and Publisher of hyper-local community news websites. With a background in financial services, sales and training, he bring a unique perspective to journalism. He hosts a bi-monthly radio show and is a professional photographer.