VAN WERT — Saturday put Van Wert on the map in the robotics world.
The Van Wert High School Robotics Club hosted the Northern Ohio First Tech Challenge Robotics Competition for the first time on Saturday, welcoming 250 students from five states to compete.
“We’re excited just to have this in Van Wert,” said Bob Spath, one of the robotics club coaches. And for “our community to see what we do.”
The regional competition is the first of its kind in Northwest Ohio, which was previously a “dead area” for the competition, Spath said.
The challenge was to make a robot that could take several whiffle balls of different sizes and get as many as possible into a receptacle. The field they had to work within was 12 feet by 12 feet and the robots had to be able to work autonomously and with direction from the students.
Of 24 competing teams, three advanced to state, including the Mechahamsters from Martinsville, Indiana, the Broken Axles from Toledo, and Tobor from Crawfordsville, Indiana, according to Spath. The Van Wert team didn’t compete because it hosted, but it will advance to state as well.
During the morning’s qualifying rounds, Kavya Kosana, 16, was at the competition with her classmates from Solon High School in Solon. After bad luck in the first round, Kavya and her teammates were in the practice field trying to improve their robot for the next round.
“We should be doing pretty well for the next round,” she said.
One of Kavya’s coaches, Mark Weber, said the team came to the competition because the timing and proximity were good for them.
“This is awesome,” he said of the competition. “They’re doing a great job.”
Miranda Grisa, 15 and a sophomore at Homestead High School, came with her team all the way from Mequon, Wisconsin.
“We really, really want to be able to make it to nationals,” she said. The team is going to a few different regional competitions so it has the best chance of getting to state competitions.
Miranda said she likes attending the competitions because she likes seeing other people’s robots.
“There’s so many different approaches to the same problem with the same parts,” she said. “It shows you how people think.”