The Krypton Cougars, a Palmyra-based high school robotics squad, is headed to Houston this week to compete in the FIRST Championship.
The competition will be held April 20-23 in the Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, where hundreds of teams from across the country will compete with robots designed, programmed, built, and operated by the student participants.
The Cougars previously competed in the 2019 FIRST Championship held in Detroit. The 2020 and 2021 championships were not held due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We are all excited to be back in a mostly regular competition season after two years of much diminished seasons,” said Joe Woelfling, a retired mechanical engineer who serves as lead mentor for the team.
In total, 13 students will be traveling to Houston, along with 19 parents and mentors. The team’s robot and pit equipment will be shipped in a truck and trailer jointly arranged with 13 other teams.
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.
The team’s progress in Houston will be tracked and livestreamed online as the squad competes against more than 450 other teams. More than 4,000 teams across the country built robots this year to vie for a championship spot.
To earn their spot in the national championship, the Krypton Cougars placed third in the FIRST Mid-Atlantic district, with a 44-13-0 record. Throughout the season the team racked up three separate Innovation in Control Awards for their automatic vision-guided ball pickup system.
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.
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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