WASHINGTON, NJ - Chatham High School’s first year robotics team, //Cougars, dominated the competition at the Northwest League Championship at the New Jersey FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) on Saturday at Warren County Technical High School.

Competing against 20 other teams, //Cougars drove their robot in circles around the competition, easily dominating their way into the first place ranked team all day long. With their autonomous program running effortlessly all day, their robot was able to shoot multiple wiffle balls into a scoring zone and even capture the beacons using their optical distance and color sensors for their team’s alliance. During the driver controlled period of the game, //Cougars robot and programming could not be touched.

//Cougars have been preparing for this day for months. Spending many hours a day in class, during lunch, and after school, the team works with their coach, Julianna Ryan, in the Advanced Robotics class at Chatham High School.

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Their hard work and dedication paid off. //Cougars advanced into the semifinals ranked No. 1. The team battled it out against a rival Chatham team, Fear The Gear, who were sitting in the fourth-place seat. //Cougars easily defeated their opponents and friends, ending the FTC season for Fear The Gear, while advancing themselves into the finals. In the finals, //Cougars once again easily defeated their competition, officially going undefeated for the day, winning an impressive nine straight matches.

As the first place captain and winners, //Cougars secured an advancement slot onto the FTC New Jersey Garden State Rumble Championship on Feb. 26.

If winning the competition wasn’t enough, //Cougars also impressed the judges with the immense amount of community outreach, efforts into their business plan, and also their detailed engineering notebook. During the awards portion of the day,

//Cougars was nominated as a top contender for the Motivate Award, an award which celebrates //Cougars for being a team that exemplifies the essence of the FIRST Tech Challenge through team building, team spirit, and exhibited enthusiasm.

The team didn’t stop there, they also brought home the Think Award, which is given to the team that best reflects the journey the team took as they experienced the engineering design process during their build season. The engineering section of their notebook should focus on their design, the underlying science and mathematics of the robot design and game strategies, the design, re-design, successes and those interesting moments when things aren’t going as planned. Through an extremely detailed log of events, sketches, and CAD drawings, //Cougar walked away with this award.

//Cougars hard work had clearly paid off. With trophies in hand and medals around their necks, most would be happy here. However, the hardworking students of CHS were eager to hear the nominees for the Inspire Award, the highest honor of the day. This award is only given to teams that were top contenders for all of the awards, highly functioning robots, and an inspiration to other teams. Although, the team had already secured a place at the State Championship, the Inspire Award winner and runner up also receive an invitation to the tournament. //Cougars took home the first runner up position for the Inspire Award.

//Cougars will now join their sister team, Chatham Cougars, who had already secured a bid to the State Championship at West Windsor Plainsboro High School North at the end of the month. The teams, both coached by Ryan, will spend the next three weeks perfecting their robot and programming hoping to dominate the competition at the State Championship and earn a spot at the FTC Super Eastern Regional competition held at the University of Scranton in March.