The Krypton Cougars, a Palmyra-based high school robotics squad, took a top spot at a FIRST Mid-Atlantic district competition earlier this month, the team’s first championship victory at a district competition since its rookie year in 2008.
The competition was held March 5-6 at Hatboro-Horsham High School, located in Montgomery County. The Cougars competed against teams from New Jersey, Delaware, and eastern Pennsylvania.
The performance secured for the Cougars a guaranteed invitation to the FIRST Mid-Atlantic District Championship, to be held April 7-9 at Lehigh University.
The squad had a rough start on Saturday, ending the day with a 3-4 record and a #20 ranking, but they roared back Sunday with five straight victories and the second highest offensive power ranking, earning a spot as the #6-ranked team at the end of qualification play.
The showing earned the Cougars an invite to join the top-ranked team’s three-team alliance for the playoffs, competing alongside two prep schools, the #1-ranked Peddie School and #7-ranked Episcopal Academy, to sweep the finals. The Palmyra team finished the weekend with a combined record of 14-5 and a #2 district ranking, second only to Peddie (a school with annual tuition upwards of $50,000).
For its performance in Horsham, the team was also awarded an Innovation in Control Award for their automatic vision-guided ball pickup system.
The Krypton Cougars are made up of Palmyra and Hershey high school students, as well as home school students. In the past, high school students from other local districts have also participated.
FIRST is an organization founded by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen to help young people discover the excitement and rewards of science and technology and have fun doing it. Among Kamen’s inventions are the Segway, the Auto Syringe, and the iBOT Wheelchair.
The Cougars were sponsored by TE Connectivity, Comcast NBCUniversal, H. R. Weaver Building Systems, Hershey Chocolate, First Davis Mechanical, Candoris, 1825 Inn Bed & Breakfast, Miller Bixler NAPA, Finkenbinder Funeral Homes, C&D Rigging, and Hershey and Palmyra high schools.
Krypton Cougars lead mentor, retired mechanical engineer and Lebanon High School grad Joe Woelfling told LebTown that the team will spend the time before their next competition continuing to improve their robot at their Palmyra buildsite located in Flight Path Park. The team competes next March 26-27 at the Seneca District Event, held at Seneca High School in Seneca, New Jersey.
Woefling said the team is always looking to grow. New members, mentors, and sponsors are invited to reach out for details. The team meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. throughout the year, but convenes more frequently during competition season.
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