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Westfield Robotics Team ‘Positive Charge’ Makes History

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Positive Charge members on the drive team discuss robot strategy before their match begins.
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On Sunday, February 26, Westfield FTC Robotics team Positive Charge competed at the New Jersey State Championships at West-Windsor Plainsboro North High School against over 20 of the most skilled teams in the state. Positive Charge was not only equipped with a reliable beacon-scoring device, it had perfected its capball lifting mechanism after much hard work and time. The team had created an effective ball carriage to lift the cap ball during endgame, when lifting of the capball is permitted; if the ball is lifted 30 inches or more off the ground, teams can score ample points. Utilizing wood to create a carriage that would grip the ball, the team attached it to drawer-slides that could elevate the ball when activated by servos in the team’s code.

Positive Charge incurred many victories on the playing fields. Its robot was successful in both defensive and offensive scoring tactics with beacons. Positive Charge’s experienced driver had acquired the skills for speed and was able to score beacons right before the buzzer and block other teams legally from scoring. During off field testing, the team did discover, however, that their capball mechanism was too slow; endgame is only 30 seconds and that is approximately how long it took their lift to elevate the capball, making it unlikely that it would be successful on the field in raising the ball high enough before time ran out. This did not interfere with Positive Charge’s performance because it was paired with allies that could use the capball in their endgame, so Positive Charge was able to focus intently on scoring beacons, which allowed them to win a majority of their matches.

At the end of their intense matches, Positive Charge was ranked impressively in 5th place but was still not chosen to compete in the Alliance Matches. However, the team was still eligible for awards from the judges. The judges announced that Positive Charge had been awarded the Think Award, an award the team had now won for the 3rd time this season, a truly impressive feat. Positive Charge won this ward for their highly organized and detailed Engineering Notebook. Their notebook is color coded, organized by section, includes a business plan, a Highlights Page, and a myriad of other striking features that stick out from other teams. The Think Award, while incredibly prestigious, is not an award that allows a team to advance to the next level of competition. However, because many teams were apart of the winning alliance that allows them to advance automatically, and won other awards that allowed them to advance (Inspire Award, PTC Design Award, etc), the overlap enabled judges to select teams who won other awards. This allowed judges to choose Positive Charge to advance to the next phase of competition, Super Regionals, for the first time any team in Westfield’s history. No other Westfield team has ever advanced to Regionals. The members’ effort and hard work on the robot and notebook was clear and ultimately brought the team immense success.

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Positive Charge is excited to represent Westfield for the first time at this stage of rigorous competition. Positive Charge is one of 10 teams in New Jersey to advance to Super Regionals out of the 48 teams that competed in New Jersey State Championship competitions. The team will be competing against 74 teams from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maryland, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia later this month. Positive Charge will face the region’s best at the East Super Regional Competition hosted at the University of Scranton in Scranton, PA on March 17-19.

In order to help fund the team as it prepares for the competition and to fund the Club for the coming season, the Westfield Robotics Club is seeking sponsorships. The Club urges businesses to make a tax- deductible donation to support youth and women in STEM.

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