Robots from Elmira head to state-wide competition

ELMIRA, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - The Express Robotics Teams from Elmira High School are going to the New York State Robotics Championship next year.

They were guaranteed their spot after qualifying in last weekend's VEX Robotics Competition.

These robots weren't Transformers and didn't have lasers or rocket launchers attached. Instead, the ultimate weapon was skill and ability.

"It was a lot of fun," Justin Williams, an 11th grade at the high school and captain of the B-team, said.  "A lot of people running around, screwing everything together, robots running, the environment was really nice."

Their A-team won the club's first championship. 

"They ended up winning the whole tournament, which is outstanding," Nathan Smith, a technology teacher and Robotics Club advisor, said. "It was the first time we ever won a tournament so we were all super excited because we didn't know what that felt like."

The B-team, however, also brought home a title.

"They won an award called the 'design award,' which qualifies for the state tournament based on their teamwork and design notebooks," Smith said. "That's the second time we won that."

It's not just the action that entices these students, it's also the challenge.

"I love the problem solving aspect of it and the engineering aspect," Williams said. "If something doesn't work, try, try again."

"It's the only thing that's really challenged me," Brian Robinson, a 12th grader and captain of the A-team, said. "Most of my other classes are pretty simple."

He also said he likes the design aspect of when designing a robot and that "there's no right answer to find a solution."

"They've learned that they can do some pretty amazing things that maybe they didn't think was possible and that's what I like," Smith said. "I like when the kids, you know, you can see the light bulb going on over their head when they figure something out and that sense of pride."

The task at hand now-- getting ready for the state championships.

"They're not satisfied with winning a tournament because they know by the end of the season, that won't be good enough," Smith said. "What's kind of nice is you keep improving like any other sport would or anything like that. 

Smith said he and the team wants "to just keep getting better, figure out what did we do well and keep doing that and what do we need to improve on."

In February, the high school will host a tournament of it's own. It will have 35 teams from around New York.


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