CHS sophomore robotics team takes 1st place

Photo Courtesy of Linda Bernstein Jasper
From left are Maplewood residents Diana Arevalo, 13; Leo Jasper, 15; and Luke Bailey, 13.

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — It was an underdog upset on Feb. 8 at the FIRST Tech Challenge New Jersey Essex County League Tournament, Robo-CATastrophe, with Team 4102 winning first place. With less experience and a young team comprising only a sophomore and two eighth graders, Team 4102 of the Columbia High School Robotics Team took home the grand prize.

Beating out 12 other teams from Essex County, the CHS Cougars have been perfecting their robot since September, continually breaking it down and building it back up again, as well as honing their “driving” skills, a key component to succeeding at robotics tournaments. Knowing that Saturday’s tournament, held at South Orange Middle School, was their last chance to qualify for the state tournament, the team mastered their competitions throughout the day, eventually capturing the grand prize in their 11th match of the day.

Next up for the team is the FIRST Tech Challenge New Jersey State Championship, aka the Garden State Rumble, to be held Saturday, March 15, at 11 a.m. at Columbia High School. Joining Team 4102 will be Columbia’s senior and junior robotics teams, both of which also qualified over recent weeks. Due to the growth of robotics in New Jersey, the number of teams invited to attend the state tournament has increased from 48 last year to 56 this year. Nine teams from each state will move on to the world championship, to be held in April in Detroit.

Charlotte Arevalo and Doug Huebner coach the Columbia robotics teams.