Three Park City robotics teams qualify for First Tech Challenge World Championship

Team members from Park City High School's robotics teams Checkmate, Inconceivable and Robominers show off their robots after a competition earlier in the season. The three teams qualified for the First Robotics World Championship.
Courtesy of Laura Monty

The Robominers, a robotics team from Park City High School, approached their final qualifier for the world championships a little disheartened. With a rough season behind them, they decided as a team to stop worrying about qualifying and instead try to enjoy what they believed would be their last competition together.

After what turned out to be an exceptional competition, they applauded another team from Park City that won the tournament and qualified for the First Tech Challenge World Championship. Then, the announcer named the Robominers as the winner of the Inspire Award, which also qualified them for the world championships. The team members burst into tears as they realized they were one of three robotics teams from Park City High School that would be attending the world championships this year.

It will be Robominers’ third year in a row competing in the world championships, and the first time for the two other Park City teams, named Inconceivable and Checkmate. Laura Monty, coach of the robotics teams at the school, said it is remarkable that three teams from one school will be attending worlds. There were only six open slots to qualify for worlds among Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. Only one other team from Utah qualified for the major competition.

The First Tech Challenge World Championship is set to take place in Houston from April 17-20.

Valentin Astie, captain of the Robominers team, said he is proud of his teammates for the long hours they spent perfecting their robot throughout the season. The team had to overcome several obstacles — from challenging team dynamics to a robot that broke two times.

“After all the issues and working from right after school until like 6:30 every day, it was super satisfying to finally make it,” he said. “We weren’t expecting it, but it happened.”

Robotics teams can qualify for worlds either by beating all the other robots at a qualifying tournament or by winning the Inspire Award. The award is given to a robotics team that has a high-performing robot and is working to grow robotics in their community. Both Robominers and Checkmate qualified for worlds by receiving the Inspire Award.

The three teams are excited to attend the competition, especially because they are going with a different game plan this year. The teams are putting their heads together to design a new robot by combining the best qualities from their existing robots, then make three copies of the same robot. They plan to design, assemble, code and practice driving the robots together, all in less than a month.

“We decided to collaborate for our last year because it’s pretty unique and it’s an opportunity we won’t get to have again,” Astie said.

Alex Prucka, captain of the team Inconceivable, said the individual teams are small, so it is helpful to combine into one larger team. There are five students on Checkmate, two students on Inconceivable and six students on Robominers.

“We are learning off of a lot of other people’s designs and taking into account what other people have already done that’s successful so far, so hopefully we can have a really competitive robot,” Prucka said.

Maxwell Pilzer, captain of Checkmate, said it will be a good experience to go as three separate teams that are unified and cheering each other on.

The teams hope to do the best they can at worlds, but are most excited to meet teams from around the globe and learn from them. Monty, who brought the Robominers to the competition the last two years, said the championship is an eye-opening experience for the teams to learn about the unique challenges teams face in different countries.

Before leaving for the world championships, the Park City Robotics Club plans to host a community event on April 1. The event is set to take place at the Kimball Junction Branch of Summit County Library from 4 to 8 p.m. The public is welcome to speak with the students about robotics and watch robot demos.


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