Warren Tech Robotics Heads To State Finals

Warren Tech Robotics FTC Team #5339 (aka the W.A.L.K.E.R.S.) celebrates after earning a spot in the New Jersey State Finals. Photo courtesy of L. Roschewsk.

Warren County Technical School’s Robotics team, also known as the W.A.L.K.E.R.S. (yes, “Walking Dead” fans, that kind of Walker), is headed to the state finals of the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics Competition on Feb. 28.

One of only 48 teams advancing to the “Garden State Rumble,” hosted at the New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark campus, the W.A.L.K.E.R.S. (Wireless Alternative Lifeforms Keen on Exploration in Robotics Systems) made it through a qualifier round last Sunday in Oradell.

The competition began with 139 teams participating from across New Jersey.

This is the second time in two years Warren Tech’s robotics team has made it to the state finals. Last year’s appearance was marred by mechanical issues: the powering mechanism for the team’s robot failed at the finals. They see this year as an opportunity for redemption.

Appearing at meets and competitions in zombie-inspired makeup and costumes, WCTS Robotics is an enthusiastic team that has garnered some special recognition this tournament season.

At the Oradell qualifiers, Warren Tech was nominated for four awards, including the coveted “Inspire” award. The Inspire award recipients automatically move on to the state finals. According to FTC, this award marks a team as a strong ambassador for FIRST programs and as a role model for all other competing teams in robot design, engineering principles, and professionalism, both in and out of the robotics arena.

“Their enthusiasm, creativity, and teamwork, combined with the technical ability to swiftly improve robot performance did not go unnoticed by the judges,” said Warren Tech Engineering Instructor and Robotics Coach, Sean McGeough.

Over the past year, WCTS Robotics has worked hard to improve and learn, making many relevant strides in streamlining robot functions and maneuverability. ­

“This team never ever gives up, and they always find a way to remain viable contenders. I believe they have the skills and experience necessary to go far in these finals,” said Coach McGeough. If the W.A.L.K.E.R.S. team qualifies in the state finals, it will move on to regionals, the final step before the “World Championship” in Missouri.

The state finals on Sunday, Feb. 28, are open to the public.

In the FIRST Tech Challenge, robotics teams are made up of students in grades 7-12 who design, build, and program robots for competition in themed challenges, such as search and rescue. Teams must form alliances, develop strategy, and build robots that will succeed at that year’s required tasks based on sound engineering principles.

Warren County Technical School, on Route 57 in Washington, prepares students for technical and vocational careers after graduation, and provides solid academic foundation in preparation for college study.

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