Mt. Saint Joseph Academy’s robot team competes.

The Mount Saint Joseph Academy robotics team, the Firebirds, won the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship’s Chairman’s Award for the seventh consecutive year. The Firebirds traveled to Lehigh University on April 11 and competed against 50 teams in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships.

The Firebirds are currently preparing to compete with their robot at the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis, Mo. from April 25-27.

Mid-Atlantic Robotics’ games closely resemble sporting events. Each robot competes against others in a game that changes every year. This year’s game is called Ultimate Ascent and involves the robots flinging as many Frisbee-like discs as possible into goals of varying point values over a 2:15-minute period.

The match begins with a 15-second autonomous period in which the robots operate independently of driver input. Discs scored during this period are worth more points. For the remainder of the match, drivers control their robots. The match ends with the robots attempting to climb pyramids that are located near the middle of the 27 x 54-foot indoor playing field. Robots earn points based on how high they climb.

Each robotics team is structured like a miniature business, with committees covering software, hardware, marketing, finance and more. Most robots are about the size of a small chest freezer. Each team is given the same basic components to build their robots but no blueprint is provided. The result is a diverse collection of cleverly crafted machines.

Founded in 2010, Mid-Atlantic Robotics (MAR) is a non-profit corporation that spans all of Delaware, New Jersey and counties in Pennsylvania from Harrisburg eastward. MAR is affiliated with FIRST Robotics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 that aims to inspire youth and promote interest in science and technology through robotic competitions that involve 2,500 teams and 58,000 students in the U.S. and around the world.

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