The JerseySTEM FTC Robotics program made history by qualifying two teams to the 2016 First Robotics state finals and sending a third one to the final round of qualifications.

On Sunday Jan. 31, two JerseySTEM FTC Robotics Teams – WeByte and LocoMotors – advanced to the NJ First Tech Challenge Championship at the New Jersey Institute of Technology set for Feb. 28.

After a first attempt at the final meet of 2015/2016 – The Wayne Hills Wrap Up on Saturday, Jan. 30, WeByte and LocoMotors were members of the Winning Alliance at the Snow Day Showdown NJ FTC qualifier, at Hightstown High School.

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WeByte and its alliance partner, EHTPAL Enforcers, placed in the top 2 out of 36 teams from the tri-state area. The Locomotors are also qualified to the State Championship and all girls rookie team Chatterbots qualified for the Southern Championship meet in Princeton on Feb. 13, where they will seek to join the two other qualified  JerseySTEM teams (Webyte and Locmotors) at the state championship

This is the second year of competition for both WeByte and LocoMotors, and also Webyte's second year to advance to the state championship.

WeByte is composed of students from neighboring towns: 7th grader William Qin, 8th graders Somil Agarwal and Daniel Gerdes are from Millburn, 9th graders Marie Field, Edward Li and Josh Smith are from Chatham.

They meet at least six hours per week to work on the missions. During the event, each team competes in at least five rounds of games. While in the second round, a WeByte encoder wire fell off and the arm that was used to hang attempted to initialize, so that the team only scored 10 points by itself.

Luckily, the team reacted quickly, fixed the track, removed the arm, and the robot operated normally during the rest of the competition. Webyte was the only team who won all 5 rounds in this event.

"It was great to see all the work that the kids put in over the last five months pay off in the last qualifying competition of the season," Mike Smith, head coach and parent volunteer, said. "Now we need to polish the robot and our competition tactics for the state championships."

Webyte is also mentored by parent and IT Security Engineer John Field.

LocoMotors is composed of sophomores Sienna Li, Tony Tesoriero, Philip Wu, Ozaner Hansha and Carson Storm. They are coaches by EGW Chief Engineer Paul Dupiano, who twice a week after work, joins the team and provides coaching and guidance.

Chatterbots, JerseySTEM’s all-girls Middle School team is composed of Veronica Quidore and Meera Malhotra and are coached by Aerospace Engineer Nicole Lankist from Emerson, a Florham Park based company and volunteer Saurabh Agarwal, a Bloomberg LP technologist.

This unprecedented result is only the tip of the iceberg. The real success is all the education and experience these (brain) Athletes have been exposed to during the hundreds of hours of practice littered with breakthroughs and  failures, companionship and team crisis, teamwork and leadership. JerseySTEM thrives to expose the students to professionals that bring with them collectively hundreds of Years of experience to share with the students. “We are a skills based volunteers organization and it is wonderful to be able to count on local engineers and scientists, active or retired to provide our students with unique exposure to real life experiences”

The program would not be possible without the continued support of local companies such as Gearhart Law, a premier intellectual property law firm based in Summit, that provided the teams with practice space for the entire season.  Owners Elizabeth (a Chemistry PhD) and Richard Gearhart (and IP Lawyer) whose children attended public schools in Chatham are strong supporters of innovation at all levels. The program also benefited from the initial sponsorship of local digital marketing company  Theorem Inc  and local logistics company Prefered Freezer Services.

For more information about JerseySTEM programs, please visit www.jerseystem.org or email stem@jerseystem.orYou can attend open practice sessions by emailing ftc@jerseystem.org