SKILLMAN, NJ - The Watchung Hills Regional High School robotics team, Team 41 RoboWarriors,  made it to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs hosted by Montgomery High School this past weekend in their second competition of 2018 and took home another award for innovation in control.

Their current ranking in the Mid-Atlantic Region puts them in a position to advance to the regional competition at Lehigh University April 5-7.

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“We are currently ranked No.42 in MAR,” said Team 41 head coach Pete Ponzio. “I believe the top 60 teams go to Lehigh. There is one more makeup event next week, where about 35 teams are playing their second event. Six of these teams are already ahead of us in the ranking and three others have already played two events and are out of Lehigh contention. This leaves 26 teams that could potentially drop us the 19 spots. Of those 26 teams, 12 teams did not score more than 15 points at their first event. I'm going to say that there is a strong possibility that we will qualify for Lehigh. If we make it there, Detroit is still a real possibility.”

This year’s competition is called FIRST Power Up. The theme is that the robots are trapped in a video arcade game and must place power cubes in strategic places to gain enough power to escape. Each match has three robots in one alliance competing against three robots in an opposing alliance. The robots are randomly assigned to the alliances for each match, and must use cooperation and strategy to win.

On Saturday in the qualification matches, the RoboWarriors ended the day with a 5-3 record.  At the end of the qualification matches on Sunday, Team 41 had a 7-5 record and was ranked No. 10 out of the 39 teams competing. 

For the playoffs, they were selected to compete with robots from Montgomery and Somerville in their alliance. Though they performed very well in the quarterfinal round in two exciting matches, it was not enough to defeat the opposing alliance.

Team 41 once again won the Innovation in Control Award for best robot control station sponsored by Rockwell Automation.

The Innovation in Control Award, “celebrates an innovative control system or application of control components – electrical, mechanical, or software – to provide unique machine functions,” the FIRST website says. Guidelines according to the website are:

  • A team spokesperson must be able to identify and describe the controls innovation and can trace its conception, design, manufacturing/assembly, or deployment.
  • The control system is innovative and unique. It is integrated with the machine, human players, strategy, etc. in concept and execution.
  • The innovation is practical; it addresses the game’s challenge. It is not just a cute idea and is reliable under the stress of competition.


Team 41 previously won this award in their first competition in Mt. Olive two weeks ago, and they were judged to have the best controller once again in Montgomery. The team worked hard in build season to create a great controller with the goal of winning this award, and were thrilled when it was announced that they won again. 


Two years ago, Team 41 reached the World Championship


For more on Team 41, go to