Robotics

Fort Couch Middle School students participate in the Regional First Lego League Robotics Grand Championship, held Dec. 11 at Sewickley Academy.

A team of Fort Couch Middle School students placed second and another team from the Upper St. Clair school earned special recognition in the Regional First Lego League Robotics Grand Championship, held Dec. 11 at Sewickley Academy.

The team of Ian Putorti, Daniyal Badaruddin, Callum Pollock, Preston McLeod, Ryan Katukota and Miles Unger, who named themselves the Unreliable Delivery Service, earned second place among 33 teams in the event’s core values competition. The teams were given tasks and evaluated on how they functioned as a group.

“The students did a wonderful job of demonstrating kindness, professionalism and a sense of humor as they interacted with each other and the judges,” said Jason O’Roark, Fort Couch gifted and accelerated math teacher.

The team of Jillian Paoly, Sofia Alfredson Themudo, Zahra Khan, Adam Henry, Liam Dunn and Jacob Clougherty, named Transportation Haven, received special recognition for their innovation project. The students were tasked with improving the transportation of products.

“They were to identify a specific problem and then research and create or improve a piece of equipment, a technology, or a method of transportation to solve the problem,” O’Roark said. “Transportation Haven’s solution involved an innovative solar-assisted truck. The group did extensive research on solar technologies to complete their project.”

The students prepared for the competition throughout the first semester as they built and programmed robots to complete missions, used problem-solving skills as they developed their innovation project, and learned to work as a team.

This is the first year that Upper St. Clair has sponsored FLL robotics teams.

“While we didn’t win the overall competition, we grew and learned a lot throughout the experience, and we did come away with some awards,” O’Roark said.

The third piece of the competition was the robot game, in which teams use their programmed robots to earn points by completing missions.

“Considering this was our first year, the teams did well, with many of them finishing in the middle of the pack,” O’Roark said. “We look forward to applying what we have learned this year to future seasons to improve as the students and program grow within USC Robotics.”

In total, 24 Fort Couch Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade students, divided among four teams, competed in the regional robotics competition. In addition to the team members who earned recognition, other Fort Couch participants included Luke An, Trevor Bhandari, Aadhi Bharath, Nikhil Chandran, Jackson Galbraith, Rohan Inampudi, Arth Italiya, Siddharth Kumar, Anish Moilla, Nikita Polstyanko, Harish Rajaganapathy and Varun Thangella.

USC Robotics will continue to be offered throughout the spring semester. Interested students and families should check www.uscrobotics.org in January for second semester robotics opportunities.

“Although there are no official FLL competitions in the spring, we wanted to offer a similar experience in the second semester so that students who didn’t get a chance to participate in the fall would have an opportunity to work with the robots,” O’Roark said.

In its first year, the USC Robotics program has benefited from the generosity of parents, community members and sponsors. For a complete list of sponsors and more information, visit www.uscrobotics.org.