Pic #2 4050AllianceTowerChallenge Local 4-H Robotics Club Excels at Greater Pittsburgh Regional Competition

Submitted by Ryan W. Myers, Franklin County 4-H Volunteer and Club Mentor

 “Dialga – the Steel Dragon” is the name of the robot built by the Franklin County 4-H Robotics Club to compete in the 2016 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). Dialga and the 4-H Club recently competed and excelled in the Greater Pittsburgh Regional FRC event against 51 other teams from five states and Canada.

The 4-H club, which is “Team 4050 – Biohazard” in the FIRST system, was part of a three team alliance that made it to the Greater Pittsburgh Regional Finals. Team 4050 – Biohazard was allied with Team 1023 – Bedford Express from Temperance, Michigan and Team 3015 – Ranger Robotics from Spencerport, New York.

Their alliance dominated the quarter final and semi-final matches, obtaining three of the five highest match scores of the entire regional event, and moved on to the final match, where they faced the number one seeded alliance, which was made up of Team 5406 – Celt-X from Hamilton Ontario, Canada, Team 1126 – SPARX from Webster, New York and Team 1559 – Devil-Tech from Victor, New York.

The finals competition was the best of three matches. The alliance with the local 4-H team won the first match, (136-91), but lost the next two matches (135-91; 143-84) when one of their alliance robots broke its gear box, and was unable to be repaired so that it could effectively compete.

“This has been one of the club’s best competition performances since I have been involved. The team has worked well together, and it has been great to see our robot perform well to produce great results.” said Micah Young, fourth year 4-H robotics club member and Co-Captain.

Team 4050 – Biohazard was also awarded the Quality Award. The Quality Award, sponsored by Motorola Solutions Foundation celebrates machine robustness in concept and fabrication. The winning team demonstrates these characteristics in many ways, from planning to execution. Building the robot is only part of their success and the judges recognize them as a quality example to others. Starting with a neat and organized pit, to the functional simple, minimalist cart, to the well-constructed robot, this team exemplifies quality. This team combined several methods of assembly, the hook and loop fastening, wire tie organization, the restrained belt pulls and high strength plastic to slide through the defenses. From the steel breast plate to the durable dragon’s tail, this team poses a hazard to its competition, congratulations Team 4050, Biohazard.

This is the fifth FRC season for the 4-H Robotics Club, and past accomplishments include being the 2015 Chesapeake Regional Winners and winning the Engineering Excellence award in 2014 at the Greater Pittsburgh Regional.

Willie Dingeldein, a club mentor for five years, stated that “I continue to be amazed by these students. Not all of them love robots, but they really enjoy being part of a team that pushes and excels toward accomplishing team goals. 4-H clubs give students an outlet for discovering, applying, and developing their talents, in a ‘positive’ setting. It is certainly a lot of hard work, but so far the rewards have been, and will prove to be, well worth every second.”

There are eight 4-H FIRST Robotics teams in Pennsylvania, and all were formed in 2012. The Chambersburg Magnet school sponsors FRC Team 4615 – The Steel Trojans. All of these teams also competed at the Greater Pittsburgh Regional Event. Team 3954 – 4-H Electrotechs from Emlenton PA also did very well in the competition and ended the qualification matches as the fifth seeded team.

Dialga and the 4-H Robotics Club will next compete in the Smoky Mountains Regional, March 30th – April 2nd, at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville TN, and its goal is to emerge victorious and to move on to the FRC World Championships in St. Louis. You can keep informed of the 4-H robotics club activities by following them on Facebook, Biohazard4050 or check out their website, www.biohazard4050.org.

The 4-H Robotics Club is composed of 26 student members, who work on various sub teams that include mechanical, electrical, programming and strategy. The students and mentors come from Chambersburg, Shippensburg, Greencastle, Mercersburg, Waynesboro, Amberson, and Fayetteville; with one family living in Falling Springs WV.  One club member remains involved virtually, even though his family has moved to Haiti.

The 4-H Robotics Club is sponsored by Chambersburg Moose #842, TE Foundation, JLG Reaching Out, VFW Post 1599, Volvo Construction Equipment, The Lehman Family Foundation, and several other local sponsors. The club is looking for more sponsors to support them in their quest to compete in the FRC World Championships in St Louis.

FIRST stands For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology and was founded in 1989, by Dean Kamen, inventor of the first drug infusion pump, a portable dialysis machine, an all-terrain wheel chair and the Segway.  The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting Mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

From late February to mid-April, over 3,000 FIRST teams, from over 25 countries, compete to earn an invitation to the FIRST World Championships, which will be held this year in St Louis from April 27th-30th. A FIRST competition consist of multiple qualification matches where an alliance team, consisting of three robots, compete against a second alliance team of three robots, to earn points by performing various tasks.  After a day and a half of qualifying matches, the top eight teams move on to the semifinals. Each of the top 8 teams gets to select two additional robots/teams to compete on their alliance.

At the beginning of each year, FIRST releases a game challenge for their FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) division. The 2016 FRC game challenge is named FIRST Stronghold. It has a medieval castle theme and challenges robots to earn points by defeating opponents defenses such as a moat and drawbridge, and capturing the opponent’s tower. A tower is captured by shooting boulders (foam balls) into the opponent’s towers and then surrounding the tower at the end of a 150 second match. Additional points can also be earned by having the robot climb the tower wall, and completing some tasks during a 15 second autonomous period at the start of the match.  The robot is controlled by a computer program during the autonomous period, as opposed to the rest of the match, when the robot is driven remotely by a team member. The game challenge is revealed in early January, and then teams have a six-week build where teams design, prototype, program and build the robot. Then the teams are required to bag the robot and for the next two months, FRC teams have the opportunity to attend competitions.

4-H programs offer something for nearly everyone. From traditional activities for youth in rural places to after school programs for city youth to science, engineering and technology education for aspiring youth, 4-H has it all. The organization’s programs and projects teach young people how to put their heads, hearts, hands and health to work in their own lives and in their communities. The 4-H program provides opportunities for youth and their families to participate in positive youth development experiences. For more information regarding Franklin County 4-H program, contact Jason Goetz, 4-H Educator at 717-263-9226

Members can choose 4-H Projects that fit their interests, abilities and the places where they live. Projects involve hands-on learning, setting goals, and evaluating one’s progress. 4-Hers can compete with their projects in contests at the local, state regional or national levels. Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to minorities, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and other protected groups.

Caption Picture 1 – Franklin County 4-H Robotics Club, Team 4050 – Biohazard at the Greater Pittsburgh Regional Robotics Competition

Caption Picture 2 – Team 4050 participating in the Alliance Tower Challenge



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“Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its workforce.”

Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to minorities, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and other protected groups.