LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston High School (LHS) Fitness and Wellness Center recently served as the backdrop for the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) of New Jersey’s Robotics Joust, where spectators and judges looked on as the teams made final adjustments to their robots and two of the four participating LHS teams emerged victorious.

LHS technology teachers Jeanne Ziobro and Brian Micciche served as faculty advisors to three LHS robotics teams—The Lancers, The Emerald Knights and The Robotic Destriers—while Ziobro coached F.I.R.E., which competed this year as FTC’s first-ever international team. Consisting of members from both Livingston and Arad, Israel, the team was nominated for awards in the Design, Connect and Motivate categories in addition to earning first place in the “Inspire” category.

“They had an amazing night,” said parent volunteer Chitra Maridi, who reveled in the team’s performance at the competition. “The F.I.R.E. team had a sweeping success and was nominated to almost all award categories.”

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FIRE will qualify for the state competition along with The Lancers, who earned third place in the “Inspire” category, won the “Think” award and was nominated for the “Connect” award.

The Emerald Knights walked away with the “Design” award and a nomination for the “Think” award after several wins on the game field.

According to Ziobro, The Robotic Destriers “also performed admirably” and now has “a lot of positive feedback to build on for the rest of the season.”

“I thought the competition was terrific,” said Ziobro. “From start to finish, the teams performed very well and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves…

“What really matters is that the students really represented LHS and the Livingston community well. They got to the school early, helped by volunteering and lending a helping hand throughout the day, cheered on other teams and stayed late to clean up. We really have a great group of students for these teams.”

The judges had the opportunity to view robots from 30 teams prior to the start of the competition, during which the robots sparred in the arena as fans cheered for their favorites.

The seven students competing on team F.I.R.E. visited Arad, Israel over the summer to meet their seven Israeli teammates face-to-face, work on the robot and enjoy some sightseeing. Earlier this month, the Israeli students arrived in Livingston to put finishing touches on the robot and do some sightseeing of their own throughout the tri-state area.

Their team is the first international robotics partnership involved in the FTC and hopes to show the world the experiences and benefits that come from this unique opportunity, the teammates said in a joint statement during the week leading up to the competition. They added that they hope this is “the future of robotics.”

Despite a seven-hour time difference and language barriers, the team successfully collaborated on a robot that will now advance to the next level of competition.

The Livingston Lancers robotics team, whose robot will also advance in the competition, has competed in the FTC since the 2007-2008 season and captured the “Think” award—which recognizes exceptional documentation skills—at the FTC World Championship for three consecutive years in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The website also states that members of the robotics team “value individual growth; rather than just building a robot, we also build people. Gracious professionalism and teamwork are core values of FTC and our team.”

For more information about Livingston robotics, CLICK HERE.

The competition was sponsored by PSEG Foundation, R & J Control Inc., Cumberland Kake and BAE systems.