VAN WERT — Teams from all over the region competed Saturday in the northwest Ohio Qualifier Robotics competition at Van Wert High School.
“We’re up to 28 teams now coming to this competition. Most of the teams are from Ohio. We’ve had teams from Wisconsin and Pennsylvania come in [before], but now so many teams are joining robotics that they’re having to host their own competition [in their home states] so that helps with offering this up to Ohio teams,” said Bob Spath, Van Wert High School robotics coach and tournament co-director.
This is the fifth year for the tournament in Van Wert.
“We used to be the only team in northwest Ohio, and now we’ve helped New Bremen, Coldwater and Wapakoneta also get teams going and that’s helped just to have teams closer to us to collaborate with,” said Spath.
The robots are built by team members and are programmed to perform certain tasks built around a theme.
“Every year is a little bit different as far as the game goes. This year it’s all based around the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing, so it’s called ‘Rover Ruckus.’ The idea is you have a lander in the middle that the teams are latched to and they can deploy during the beginning and then it’s all autonomous, so it’s all sensor-based, and then they’ve got to try to find the right mineral — gold mineral — using sensors, and if they knock the right one off, they get points. There’s a crater where there’s more minerals that the teams can either traverse over or they can collect and score back in that lander to collect them to take them back to home when they blast off,” said Spath.
Liam Martell, a senior at Wapakoneta, is thrilled to be part of the competition.
“It’s a great experience. The thrill of competition is really, really fun. Just that high-intensity energy that surrounds the entire day, it’s an unparalleled experience that you can’t really find anywhere else,” said Martell.
Van Wert fielded two teams. The veteran team already has a berth at the state tournament coming up in a month at Loveland High School near Cincinnati.
The all-rookie team is making steady progress.
“I think it’s been a learning process, definitely. I mean, just starting out the season with so little experience, our brother team has definitely helped us out along the way, and we have great coaches. But yeah, it’s been fun just learning the ropes,” said team field coach Lyrissa Hammons, a tenth grader from Van Wert.
The top award, The Inspire Award, was won by Van Wert’s veteran team, VW Robotics, Team 5501. They were the only team to go undefeated at 9-0.
Their winning alliance partners were Team 14174, Cougar Robotics, also from Van Wert High School. The other alliance partner was Team 12166, New Bremen Techno Birds, from New Bremen.
These teams are advancing to the Robotics Ohio State Championship taking place the end of February.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.