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McKeesport Area wins FIRST robotics berth

Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
McKeesport Area High School's AMP'd robotics team is moving on to the FIRST Robotics Championship after a weekend win at the Chesapeake Regional competition in Baltimore.

By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 4:01 a.m.
 

A weekend win in Baltimore earned McKeesport Area High School students a chance to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship.

McKeesport Area's AMP'd Robotics Team 1708 entered its competition bot Rush, which is dedicated in memory of John Light, a 2011 McKeesport Area graduate who died in a turnpike accident in August, into the Ultimate Ascent-themed First Robotics Competitions in Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

In the Pittsburgh Regional event in March, McKeesport Area was one of 45 teams. Students took part in 11 qualification matches, two quarter finals and two semi finals before being eliminated. They earned the Motorola Quality Award, given by judges to celebrate machine robustness in concept and fabrication.

In this weekend's Chesapeake Regional event, McKeesport Area was one of 63 teams. Students took part in eight qualification matches, two quarter finals, two semi finals and two finals. With an average team score of 141 points, they earned the regional championship.

Students enrolled in the 2012-13 robotics team, led by teacher Michael Dischner, include Alec Casperson, Aaron Cochran, Tyler Cottone, Carmen Fraley, Kahlil Goodlow, Ryan Jacobs, Jim Kiss, Casey Light, Matthew McFadden, Nathan Menard, William Payne, Anton Perkins, John Russo, Dalton Shaffer and Robert Yates.

“It was a great experience and we learned a lot,” senior Casey said. “We've been working four years for this. We've put a lot of work and effort in it, and it's finally paid off.”

The season-culminating event, welcoming international student teams for the sport of science and technology, is planned for April 24-27 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo.

“This is the highlight of our senior year,” Matthew said. “It's the best thing for us.”

Dischner explained that McKeesport Area students took fellow competitors by surprise nearly a decade ago, when the local program was initiated by a Consortium for Public Education grant. They won the regional competition with no past experience, but haven't had a winning season since.

The AMP'd robotics team depends on community support to fund its projects and travels. Funds to support the McKeesport Area robotics program can be forwarded through The Consortium for Public Education with a memo listing Team 1708 or the McKeesport Area Education Foundation with a memo listing the John Light Memorial Fund.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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