Penn State York to host robotics competition Jan. 19

January 17, 2013

More than 300 middle and high school students will descend on Penn State York for the FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) South Central PA Regional Qualifier, “Ring It Up,” a robotics competition, to be held from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, in the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center at the campus.   Opening ceremonies are at 10 a.m. followed by competitions throughout the day.  Prior to the ceremony, teams will have an opportunity to  get organized, register their robots, and prepare for competition. This is the third time the campus has hosted this event. The competition is open to the public to watch and it is free.

Thirty-five teams with up to 10 members each from as far away as New York, New Jersey, and Delaware and as near as Sonoma Academy in York and SciTech High School in Harrisburg are registered for the event. The “Ring It Up!” competition features a task-oriented robotics event where teams are asked to perform a variety of maneuvers with their robots and this particular game is a variation of tic-tac-toe.

Those interested are encouraged to view a video of the game at to get a better idea of what the contest involves.   Due to the great demand for participation in this event, the registration cap has been expanded twice, from 24 to 30, and now 36 teams.

Marshall F. Coyle, associate professor of engineering at Penn State York, is the volunteer coordinator for the event, and has worked to fill the many positions necessary to make the competition possible. It was his idea to bring the competition to campus three years ago.

“It is truly amazing to see the creativity these high school student exhibit in the creation of their robots,” said Coyle.  “These kids have a bright future in science, engineering and math fields solving world problems,” he said. “I am really excited about the FTC event!”  

Penn State York is one of the several regional sites. The qualifiers from the regionals compete in the State Championship being held Saturday, March 2 at Millersville University. Teams that qualify from the states will then proceed into the National Championship to be held in St Louis.

Funding for the 2013 event on campus is thanks to a grant from ArcelorMittal, the world's leading integrated steel and mining company, with a presence in more than 60 countries, and a Pullo Family Grant funded through the Pullo Family Fund. The fund was established by Donna and Robert Pullo to support projects in innovative, technology-based, learner-centered teaching that are collaborations between Penn State York faculty and York area secondary school teachers.

The acronym FIRST means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology and the organization was founded in1989 by Dean Kamen, an accomplished inventor, who wanted to inspire young people to appreciate science and technology.

According to Thomas Zawislak, FIRST FTC affiliate partner, team members are part of an alliance trying to perform tasks on the field with their robots.  The event emphasizes gracious professionalism; winning  is nice but the design process and participant attitude are the important goals.  Teams help each other and members develop friendships and camaraderie throughout the competition.

Penn State York students, faculty, staff , and business members from the York community  work as volunteers during the competition filling a variety of roles from judges to field tech advisors, scorekeepers, software inspectors, and more. In addition, students from Logos Academy in York, who qualified for states in the First Lego League will be working at the competition. 

Throughout the competition teams are judged on their sportsmanship, performance of their robots, completion of tasks, ability to follow rules, and a variety of other criteria. Students in grades seven to 12 take part in the competition.

Teams registered for the Penn State York FTC including their team name school or organization, and city and state are: ZONE, Oxford Area High School, Oxford, Pa.; Steel Hornets, Emmaus High School, Emmaus, Pa.; Ampere, Upper Dublin High School, Fort Washington, Pa; Hawks, Moorestown Friends School, Moorestown, N.J.; MOE Miracle Workerz, Wilmington, Del.; RoboWorks, Phoenixville Area High School, Phoenixville, Pa; Craftsmen, Boy Scout Troop 793, Ellicott City, Md.;SciBots, SciTech High School, Harrisburg, Pa.; Jag-Wired, Garnet Valley High School, Glen Mills, Pa.; MASH, Friends of 401, West Vincent, Pa; CHS Cougars, Columbia High School, Maplewood, N.J.; Wrench in the Works, Chesco Robotics, Downingtown, Pa.; Silver Soldiers, Lockheed Martin/OJR Education Foundation, North Coventry, Pa.; Landroids, Livingston Robotics Club, Livingston, N.J.; Watt The Hex?, Say Watt Robotics, Edison, N.J.; NanoGurus, NanoGurus Robotics, Morris Plains, N.J.; Autobots, TCHS-Brandywine, Downingtown, Pa.; Smokin' Motors, Conrad Weiser High School, Robesonia, Pa.; RoboFoxes, Sidwell Friends School,Washington, DC; RoboWarriors, Mifflin County School District, Lewistown, Pa.; Minnie MASH, Friends of 401, West Vincent Township, Pa.; Robo Scouts, Boy Scout Troop 793, Ellicott City, Md.; LANLords, Lancaster FTC, Millersville, Pa.; Imagine It, Imagine It, Palmyra, Pa.; Team Daedalus, Sidwell Friends School, Washington, DC; Domini Machinae, Sidwell Friends School, Washington, DC; Pro Corning Inc., Corning, N.Y.; Robodragons, Freire Charter School, Philadelphia, Pa.;Robodragons Freire Charter School,Philadelphia, Pa; Fightin' Irish Academy of Notre Dame, Villanova, Pa; Live Wire,Chesco Robotics, Downingtown, Pa; foobar, Oxford Area High School, Oxford, Pa.; Ratzo Robotics, Sonoma Academy, York, Pa.; Robo Dawgs, Wilson High School, West Lawn, Pa.; and Radioactive Raiders, North Brunswick Township High School, North Brunswick, N.J.   

For more information on FIRST, visit their website at

Schedule for the Day
7 a.m.                Volunteers Arrive
8 a.m.                Team Arrive – Registration
Hardware and Software Inspection Begins
8:15 a.m.            Welcome to Teams – Review Logistics for the Day
8:30 a.m.            Judge Interviews Begin
8:45 a.m.            Drivers Meeting On Competition Field
Reset Crew Meeting
9 a.m.                Practice Matches on Practice Field
Software Inspection on Competition Field
10 a.m.            Opening Ceremonies
10:30 a.m.            Qualification Matches Begin
12:30 p.m.            Lunch Break
1 p.m.                Qualification Matches Resume
2 p.m.                Alliance Selection (top four teams)
2:15 p.m.            Start Semi-finals
3:15 p.m.            Start Finals
4 p.m.                Awards and Closing Ceremonies
4:30 p.m.            Event Complete


  • High school students maneuver their robots during the FTC Qualifier last year at Penn State York.

    IMAGE: Barbara Dennis

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 18, 2013