Robotics takes States after a year’s work… at home

State champions Arnav Sardesai ’23, Ronan Wood ’23 and Maxim Krieder ’21 – Ms. Victoria Krieder

   The school’s robotics program is one of the most prestigious in the nation. The number 169 has a worldwide reputation for having some of the best VEX Robotics teams in the world. For the past ten years, 169 has won the Eastern Pennsylvania State Championship.

     This year was no exception. Two 169 teams made finals, and one, 169A, took the win again.

     Behind every successful tournament, hours of preparation go into engineering, building, and practicing with a robot. Normally, this all takes place at school in Wilson Hall’s ground-floor shop, where the robotics team usually has two “fields” and all of the tools and parts they need to make quality, functional robots. 

     Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the robotics team has had to move home this season.

     Sixth Former Owen Gormley has hosted many teams for building and scrimmaging sessions at his house.

     “I have a field at my house with parts and an area to build,” Gormley said, “I started working over the summer and have been refining it since.”

 “The main difference between preparing for States this year and last year is that we have been working at our houses. We also spent less time scrimmaging.”

Arsh Aggarwal ’24

     Third Former Arsh Aggarwal has a similar setup at his house.

     “The main difference between preparing for States this year and last year is that we have been working at our houses,” Aggarwal stated. “We also spent less time scrimmaging.”

     In order to follow school guidelines, masks are worn at all times and social distancing is practiced when possible. 

     Working at home may be the new normal. There have been talks of keeping fields and parts of people’s houses for the upcoming season. 

     But not everyone agrees.

     “Personally, I do not think this is a great idea,” Aggarwal said, “There is an environment at the shop and a culture that 169 has developed. There is this energy that is important to have.”

     Working at school is more convenient for everyone, as they do not have to make sure that whoever’s house they are going to is available.

     The 169 team is still looking forward to future competitions. 

     “We are trying to compete in whatever events we can,” Gormley said, “especially more competitive competitions.”