SPARTA, NJ – The preseason for Sparta High School robotics is as intense and busy as any other team, only the field is different.  The sub teams are building their robots for the Tower Takeover VEX Robotics 2019-2020 season challenge.

Sparta’s high school program has grown to eight subteams; five club teams and three teams that are enrolled in either Robotics Engineering 2 or the STEM Academy Capstone Engineering Robotics classes according to teachers and advisors Mark Meola and Margaret Incantalupo

The club teams have had the advantage of working on their machines since last May, after the World Championships, then the new challenge was announced.

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Incantalupo said, “The focus by the teams has been good from early on.”

“The designs are much further along right off the bat,” Meola said.  The experience of the students, as well as the opportunity to have knowledge passed along has been helpful to the program they said.

They are moving from paper drawings and designs to prototypes.

To participate on the team students must have already taken Robotics I or be a part of the STEM Academy Engineering or Computer Science strands.

Students in Robotics classes are not required to come after school, but most do according to Incantaloupo.  “They come to put more time in.”

Meola said, “The students come with experience from class or they get it here [after school].”

This is the first year where Sparta High School teams will have to compete to go to the South Brunswick competition because the school is limited in the number of teams they can bring Meola and Incantloupo said.

 “This year we are coming off a State Championship,” Meola said. Last year subteam 5249Z represented Sparta High School at the World Championships in Nashville.  According to Meola half of that team graduated but half remain to mentor the other students, even on other subteams.

The teams also benefit from two alumni mentors; Josh Knospler and Pat McGurrin.  Knospler is part of the STAR program at Sussex County Community College.  He helps the teams out after school.

McGurrin is a freshman at West Point.  The STEM academy graduate helps the students via email.

“It’s nice they still have a connection to the program,“ Meola said.

Knospler has been working with team 5249P a new team.  Meola said they do not have experience with robotics but as STEM students and with Knospler’s guidance, “they will pick it up fast.” They are a “team to watch,” Meola said.

“STEM has been a great experience,” senior Alan Yeung said.  “I’ve leaned so much since freshman year, having the opportunity to experience different engineering programs.  Before this I didn’t know about all the different kinds of engineering.”

Yeung is working with Aerojet Rocketdyne aerospace engineering company for his STEM senior internship.  Meola said two students are interning with Thorlabs, one with CP Engineering and two with Aerojet.

“I get the best of the best,” Meola said.

The high school team will begin their competition schedule in December at World Champions Milburn.  Sparta High School will host on January 11, 2020.  The teams will vie for a slot to compete at South Brunswick on February 1 and they will return to Milburn on February 9.

Younger robotics enthusiast will have their chance to compete at the VEX IQ Competition at Sparta High School on November 16, for grades six, seven and eight.  On November 23 the Sparta Middle School hosts a FIRST Lego competition for younger students including middle school and Helen Morgan students. 

The Sparta Team 5249 members:

  • Cameron Ekeman,
  • Aidan Oberle,
  • Shaelin Murphy,
  • Christopher Scheri,
  • Alex Ramos,
  • Andy Stefancik,
  • Sean Ailara,
  • Dennis Hartmann,
  • Kristen Bradish,
  • Arthur Got,
  • Ian Manske,
  • Christopher Angelucci,
  • Sebastian Gomez,
  • Sarah Bargfrede,
  • Nick Ventresca,
  • Jonathan Poret,
  • Noor Elhamouly,
  • Bektur Totoshev,
  • Ula Bitinaitis,
  • Akshat Iyer,
  • Jonathan Enriquez,
  • Benjamin Lipton,
  • Karthik Selvaraj,
  • Markus Homann,
  • Ryan Curry,
  • Michael Caruso,
  • Moses Hughes,
  • Nick Casqueira,
  • Hayden Budofsky,
  • Ryan McQuillan,
  • Alan Yeung,
  • Tom Scheri,
  • Anna Tartaglia,
  • Sebastian Gomez.
  • Riley Schneider,
  • Austin Gudenkauf,
  • Parker Williamson,
  • Reese Brancato,
  • Olivia Giralt,
  • Grace Craig,
  • Tanner Mell,