Last week, the all-female FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics team, Positive Charge, from Westfield High School made history by being the first ever robotics team from Westfield to compete at the regional competition. The team competed at East Super Regionals at the University of Scranton on March 17-19. At the University, the team competed with 71 other teams from the East Coast that represented the top 6 percent of robotics teams in the country. The competitors were divided into two divisions: Tesla and Hopper, named after the famous inventor Nikola Tesla and the revolutionary Naval officer and computer scientist, Grace Hopper. Positive Charge was assigned the Tesla division and competed with 35 other teams. 

The competition was fierce; 72 highly skilled teams were vying for just 34 spots to compete in the incredible World Championships in Saint Louis, MO later in April. At Worlds, teams that have advanced from 4 regions across the United States face the best teams in the nation and from 17 other countries. 

Positive Charge members had prepared heavily for weeks leading up to the competition and had their cap ball lift mechanism perfected on practice fields. However, the team ran into complications with this lift, which rendered it unusable on the competition field, despite their troubleshooting and diligent efforts to fix it. 
The team started off strong in its initial matches, despite their non functional lift. The team’s driver, Julia, had mastered playing offensively by scoring beacons quickly and efficiently and swiftly moving defensively to defend those beacons. The team’s original autonomous had worked perfectly and was able to work in tandem with other teams’ autonomous because the team had gotten help in adding a strategic delay. Unfortunately, the team encountered serious communication and power issues with their robot; on top of this, their program application inexplicably quit on them, sacrificing many matches and forcing their ranking to drop. After seeking help from Danny Bau at the AndyMark booth, the team learned that their wheels were sucking up all the battery power in their robot, which starved the controllers and made the robot shut down in the middle of matches. 

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Even though the team had switched out its wheels for more battery-efficient ones in time for its last match, its final ranking was 26 out of 36. This was still impressive, especially considering the level of competition at Regionals. However, because their robot was ranked lower than the top half, Positive Charge was not eligible to be considered for any qualifying awards. But Positive Charge members were proud of their performance and this positivity was ultimately recognized. Positive Charge was awarded the Judges’ Award, which honors a team that has demonstrated its profound uniqueness to the judges, exemplifies the ideas of FIRST, is heavily passionate about STEM, and portrays special team dynamics that do not fit into any other award category. Out of 72 teams, it is outstanding that Positive Charge was recognized. The team is incredibly proud of this accomplishment and of their many triumphs in this year’s season. 

The Westfield Robotics Club is extremely proud of Positive Charge for representing Westfield for the first time at Regionals. The Club is seeking sponsors to help fund their next season, prospectively the most successful one yet. The Club offers great benefits to all sponsors and encourages businesses to make a tax-deductible donation for a fantastic cause. Please email Sa’id Kharboutli for inquires at skharboutli@westfieldrobotics.org.