SLHS SparTechs go global


SLHS Robotics Team

The SparTechs took on Austin, Texas to participate in the world competition.

The SparTechs, Southern Lehigh High School’s robotics club, spent the past four months preparing for the FIRST Robotics program’s world championship in Austin, Texas. The team was tasked with creating a robot to compete in elimination rounds in hopes of advancing to worlds. Once there, the team competed against 30 different countries ranging from Austria to South Africa.

Southern Lehigh mathematics teacher Mr. Jonathan Piperato, serves as a mentor for the SparTechs, and explained the team’s path to the FIRST world championship. 

“You have two district events; they are like our regular season. If you place in the top 60 in the overall standings after the district events, you get invited to the district championship,” said Mr. Piperato. “If you place in the top 20 in the overall standings after district championships, you get invited to worlds.”

After success in the district events, the team’s robot placed 5th in the district championship, qualifying them to advance to the next level of competition. In April, the SparTechs and their robot traveled across the country to Texas to compete in 3-on-3 challenges at worlds. That is, three robots would ally together to face off against another trio, each picking up cones and cubes and then transporting them to drop points for scoring.

In the world competition, the SparTechs ranked 43rd out of the 77 teams in their division, and the teammates were left feeling satisfied with an incredibly successful year. They look forward to the opportunity to improve next year, and more importantly, opportunities to bond as a team.

Many of last year’s upperclassmen graduated or left after last season, so the majority of the current team is new. There are about thirty active members, divided into three subgroups: programming, business, and build. After weeks of work in the wood shop, the build team finalized the physical makeup of the robot; its predecessors include imaginative bots like Jerry Rigger, the Monstructor, and SoIeonidas I through V. Then the programming team could begin coding its software for the trials in competition. Throughout this all, the  business team was working to raise funds and awareness for the team.

“Strong and positive team chemistry this year allowed them to finish ahead of schedule,” said Mr. Piperato. 

  Sophomore and programming captain Keller Yan explains what a rewarding experience competing with the SparTechs can be.

“When your robot is on the field, you get to see the results of months of hard work,” he said. “Part of the experience is also being able to talk with amazing people from other teams and make new friends along the way. From the mentors and alumni to the students, it’s an incredibly supportive and friendly community.”