VAN WERT —Twenty-one schools that fielded 23 teams competed Saturday in the First Tech Challenge Robotics Qualifying Tournament at Van Wert High School.
The school itself has already qualified for the Ohio State Championship when one of their two teams won a recent tournament in Wapakoneta.
“The event itself has gotten better throughout the years,” said Zane McElroy, Van Wert’s coach and co-organizer of the tournament. “We’ve been able to enhance what we’re displaying, speed up the tournament, not have as many disconnect issues with the robots to give everyone a pretty fair feel at the tournament.”
Van Wert has fielded a robotics team for nearly a decade.
“When we started this program, nine years ago, we were the only robotics team in this area. Now, moving forward nine years, we have Wapakoneta with a team. Minster had two teams, Fort Loramie has a team, New Bremen two teams, Coldwater and Ada, Bellefontaine. Just this week, St. Marys came over, and they’re talking about starting a team,” said McElroy.
Wapakoneta has 10 students on their team, and figuring out the build of the robot and programming will help many of these students that want to pursue engineering.
“It gives them kind of the real-world engineering experience,” said Graham Fennell, coach of the Wapakoneta team. “I teach engineering robotics at my high school and this gives them that experience … they do everything that you would have an engineering firm. They’re documenting everything down there, recording what happens. They’re constantly evaluating and redesigning. It gives them that design aspect which is really cool to see high school students do it.”
The team members see the benefit of being on the robotics team.
“I’ve learned a lot through this, a lot of building techniques … a lot of teamwork and responsibility. So it helps me a lot,” said Tyler Ricketts, a junior at Wapakoneta High School.
Tanner Haggard, a sophomore at Wapakoneta High School hopes to go into the robotic engineering field after high school.
“I took a robotics class last year and it seemed like it spoke to me. It was kind of like mech work because I did the building part phenomenally. Like I could build anything that (our teacher) wanted us to,” Haggard said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.