Newton robotics wins big at district events

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— Newton High School’s robotics team is winning big this season thanks to the support from the community.

With help from local businesses including ThorLabs, ShopRite, Kohl’s, Applebee’s, and many of Newton’s restaurants, as well as community members, Aperture is taking the FIRST Robotics Competitions by storm and determined to make their supporters proud.

During two recent district events, Aperture 3142 won up a total of four major awards including two in Industrial Safety, the Entrepreneurship Award, and the Engineering Inspiration Award – the second most prestigious award in the competition and one that automatically moves the team to the District Championship at Lehigh University on April 11 and 12.

Lara Pennell, a sophomore and new Safety Leader for the team, won three awards.

The most exciting part of the event was in the arena, where three robotics teams form an alliance and face-off against an opponent. This season’s game, Aerial Assist, is a cross between soccer and volleyball with points being awarded to teams that can work together to successfully pass the ball down the field and score goals while being blocked by teams from the opposition.

Aperture’s robot and drive team ranked among the top for their teamwork skills, moving them through the seeding matches to the quarterfinals and then the semifinals.

The competition was intense, the semifinal matchup was close with Aperture’s alliance partner Extreme Heat - Team 223 from Wanaque, taking a critical hit from an opponent preventing it from functioning at full capacity.

While Aperture and the Mechanical Mustangs - Team 3314 from Clifton, adjusted their game strategy to try and capture the points for the lead, they were edged out of a win in the last seconds of the game with a final score of 25 to 22.

With mentors from Alcatel-Lucent, BASF, General Wiring & Stamping Co., PackDevCo Inc., and Pharmgate LLC. helping Aperture fine tune programming, electrical and mechanical functions, Aperture has its eye on winning at the District Championship and securing an invitation to St. Louis, the site of the International Championship where teams from around the world gather to compete against each other.

The FIRST Robotics Competition is unlike any other. Students have $16 million available through scholarships, and the teams winning the Chairman’s Award and Top Alliance visit the White House for a one-on-one with the President of the United States.

For those wanting to see Aperture in action or learn first-hand about the FRC program contact coach James Hofmann at Jhofmann@newtonnj.org or see the competition at Lehigh University in April.

The event is free to the public.

This story was submitted by Laura Bugay

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