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Austintown hosts robotics competition

July 3, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

School may be out for the summer, but members of the high school robotics team are able to continue to compete over the summer. In Austintown it not only means competing, but also hosting a huge event.

On Saturday, June 30, the Austintown Middle School gymnasiums were filled with robotics teams from around Ohio and Pennsylvania. There were 18 teams in total that signed up to compete in the Northeast Ohio FIRST Robotics League (NEOFRL) 2018 Mahoning Valley Challenge.

The challenge was a day-long event that began in the morning with individual competition that earned teams points that would prove valuable later.

Article Photos

Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier

The Austintown Fitch Falco Tech competition robotics team took part in the Northeast Ohio FIRST Robotics League challenge at Austintown Middle School on Saturday. Pictured are team members Hannah Harris, Bill McKenney, Mathew Lane, Jeremy Selby, Dylan Gorgie, and Brandon Malahtaris, and in front, robot 3193.

"Teams earn points and based on those points, were able to form alliances later," said Fitch mentor Andy Yantes, who served as host for the event.

He said the morning's individual competition had the robots completing various tasks to score the points. The team with the highest point total was then able to choose what team they wanted to align with. Second most points chose next and so on down the line. Prior to the afternoon's start, there were six teams of three schools, whose robots now had to work together to win the elimination rounds.

"You really don't know who you will be paired with," said Falco Tech mentor Rick Zimmerman.

The Fitch Falco Tech team of Hannah Harris, Bill McKenney, Mathew Lane, Jeremy Selby, Dylan Gorgie, and Brandon Malahtaris, along with mentors Yantes, Mike Mellott and Zimmerman, found themselves paired with Dayton and Pittsburgh. The team took part in two elimination rounds in the quarterfinals, but was knocked out after a malfunction.

"The radio lost connection and we lost the ability to communicate with the robot," said team member Brandon Malaharis,

While it was a heart-breaker for the Falco Tech team, it wasn't a long haul back to the home school. Robot 3193 was loaded into the back of a pickup truck for the two-minute ride from AMS to Fitch.

The day was not a waste though. The event was open to the public and admission was free. A concession area was available with proceeds helping to fund future NEOFRA events.

NEOFRA was also hosting a charity food drive at Saturday's event to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley.

"We encouraged spectators to bring non-perishable food items and drop them off at the designated drop-off areas when they arrive," Yantes said.

For the Austintown team, the competition is over for the month, but the robot was brought out to take part in the Fourth of July Parade.

FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, was founded by inventor Dean Kamen and MIT professor Dr. Woodie Flowers to inspire young people's greater interest and participation in science, technology, engineering, and math endeavors, and to lead them into STEM career fields. FIRST offers four levels of robotics programs for students in grades K-12.



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