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Westfield High School Robotics Teams Win Awards and Advance to Two State FIRST Tech Challenge Championships

 Westfield Robotics Team Members: Front Row (Left to Right): Mike Carides (vice-captain), Neil Makhija (captain), Spencer Fishman (captain), and Alistair Kapadia (vice-captain); Middle Row (Left to Right): Saranya Turimella, Christine Rogers, Fiona Gillespie, Trisha Mukhopadhyay, Rachael He, Anna Glueck, Linzy Rosen, and Ashley Rosen; Back Row (Left to Right): Joe Detrano, Jack Mulvanerty, Jordan Hindes, Eli Zidel, Thomas Han, Hank Sacco, and Vivek Sreenivasan

Westfield High School’s Robotics teams, Team 5968 and Team 7102, advanced to state championships in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Coached by WHS teachers Valentino Scipioni and Susan Marie Terra the Robotics teams competed in multiple qualification tournaments to earn spots in the state competitions. On Dec 6, the teams traveled to Ambler, PA where 33 teams from four states competed in the Eastern Pennsylvania Regional Qualifying Tournament. On, Dec. 14, the two teams competed against 34 other teams in RoboJoust at Livingston High School in Livingston, NJ. And on Jan. 3, 2015, Team 5968 competed against 24 teams at the Liberty Science Center Qualification Tournament.

Both teams were nominees for the Inspire Award, the highest award of achievement in FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC).  The Inspire Award is given to the team that truly embodies the challenge of the FTC program. The team that receives this award is chosen by the judges as having best represented a ‘role-model’ FTC Team. This team is a top contender for all other judging categories and is a strong competitor on the field. Working as a unit, this team will have demonstrated success in accomplishing the task of creating a working and competitive robot.Team 5968 placed 3rd for the Inspire Award in PA and 2nd for the Inspire Award at Liberty Science Center, while Team 7102 placed 3rd for the Inspire Award at the RoboJoust. These awards qualify the teams to compete in the state competitions in February and March 2015.

Mr. Scipioni, the teams’ head coach, was thrilled with the teams’ performances. “It is exhilarating watching young kids today actually use their hands to build something from scratch. The process of engineering is alive in today’s kids and working with these particular kids and watching the problem solving that goes into building something as intricate as these robots really gives you faith that knowledge and creativity are still alive” said Coach Scipioni.

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 The two Westfield teams were also acknowledged for other awards.  At the Robojoust, Team 7102 was the winner of the Connect Award. The Connect Award applauds a team’s efforts in contacting specialists, professionals involved in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and their spread of robotics to the community. Team 7102 members reached out to several companies, both local establishments and chains, and received sponsorships and guidance from numerous professionals. In addition to bringing home the Connect Award, Team 7102 was nominated for the Motivate award, which is given to a team that not only expresses passion for robotics but also celebrates their team, individuality and spirit through costumes and fun outfits, and a team cheer.

At the Eastern PA Qualifier, Team 5968 was nominated for the PTC Design Award, Rockwell Collins Innovate Award, and Connect Award; Team 7102 was also nominated for the Connect Award.

At the Liberty Science Center tournament, Team 5968 won the PTC Design Award. The PTC design award is “presented to teams that incorporate industrial design elements into their solution. These design elements could simplify the robot’s appearance by giving it a clean look, be decorative in nature, or otherwise express the creativity of the team. The winning design should not compromise the practical operation of the robots but complement its purpose”.

In the match competition portions of the tournaments, both teams advanced to the playoff rounds.  At the RoboJoust, Team 5968 and Team 7102 met in the semifinals In a riveting series of 3 matches, Team 5968, along with their alliance partners prevailed, winning the tie-breaking third match with a high score of the day and advanced to the finals where they lost in a close set of 3 matches. 7102 Team Captain Neil Makhija revealed that, “The biggest challenge we faced was the fact that the robot was outmatched by many other robots at the competition. The one thing that makes our team unique is how we are all prepared to give [KF1]  our all and work diligently to accomplish our goals, even when they see unreachable.”

At the Liberty Science Center tournament, Team 5968 was selected to be in the first alliance in the playoff round where they easily won their semifinal match and prevailed in an exciting 3-match final to win the tournament.

Both teams look forward to the coming months to further improve their robots as they prepare for the state competitions. Team 5968 Captain Spencer Fishman reflects on the season so far, "The two Westfield Robotics teams have been working long and hard for the past three months on our robots.  It is fantastic to see the teams being recognized for our efforts and achievements.  We are all so excited to compete at the Pennsylvania and New Jersey State Championships."

Westfield Robotics thanks the following organizations for their donations: Bonsall Chiropractic, Evonik Industries, Garwood Metal, Gep, Home Depot of Union, Lonza, and Nixle. Individuals and organizations wishing to learn more or to contribute to Westfield Robotics may contact the team at

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization devoted to helping young people discover and develop a passion for science, engineering, technology, and math. Founded over 20 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen, the 2013-2014 FIRST season attracted more than 350,000 youth and more than 130,000 Mentors, Coaches, and Volunteers from 80+ countries. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $19 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to The annual programs culminate in an international robotics competition and celebration where teams win recognition, gain self-confidence, develop people and life skills, make new friends, and perhaps discover an unforeseen career path.

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