East hosts the Vex Robotics New Jersey State Championship

The Frightening Lightning team competes at the Vex Robotics State Championship.

Luke Hinrichs

The Frightening Lightning team competes at the Vex Robotics State Championship.

On February 21, East’s DiBart Gym became a hectic haven for burgeoning STEM students and artistic scholars alike. Hundreds of New Jersey students, including the East Robotics Club, gathered at East for the Vex Robotics New Jersey State Championship.

Through the six years of its existence, the Robotics Club has proven to be one of the most successful robotics programs in the state, massing over forty awards and titles. However, for the first time in its history, a team from the East club did not take home the New Jersey State Championship title.

“The competition has definitely improved. Even though it is great to see the amount of teams competing increase and more robotics programs startup, there is a lot more pressure to perform at a higher level,” said club Vice-President Nikola Kosaric (’16).

This year, the competition challenge was to shoot foam balls into a three foot high net. Creating a robot that can successfully perform this seemingly simplistic task requires hundreds of hours of programming and constructing.

Although an East Robotics club team did not win the championship, seven teams (Deus Vex Machina, Equinox, Frightening Lightning, Galactic Gorillas, Heisenbots, Kingbot and Newton) competed and six went to the playoffs.

None of the East teams advanced past the playoffs, but Deus Vex Machina was awarded the Amaze Award.  Also, Frightening Lightning won the Design Award, which qualifies them to participate in the Vex World Championship in Louisville, Kentucky where 450 of the best high school robotics teams from over 25 countries come together to compete.

Even though Frightening Lightning did not advance by winning the State Championship, the Design Award allows them to compete in the main competition as well as compete to win the World Championship Design Award.

The Frightening Lightning team consists of Sofia Benedetto (’17), Bryan Cheung (’16), club President Jason Fisch (’16), club Vice-President Nikola Kosaric (’16), Jack Siu (’16) and Jesse Stiller (’16).

“For the design award, we are judged on our engineering notebook which comprises all of the calculations, pictures and diagrams of what we have been building this year. It shows the process, like what steps we took to build the robot and it’s a combination of designs and calculations,” said Fisch.

Frightening Lightning has qualified for Worlds all four years of its existence but since most of the team is seniors, this year is their last chance to represent East and bring home titles.

Fisch said,  “We hope to be the first team from East, and I am pretty sure New Jersey, to win the division and move on to the round-robin, which are the top five alliances in the world.”

For the other ten teams, the robotics season has ended and the next season is highly anticipated.

“We are losing three senior teams. However the way East Robotics is structured, with our great mentoring system, [it] allows underclassmen to gain experience. Even though we may be young, we will have experience and we will learn from this year. Yes, this year’s state championship was one of our worst, but I know we will come back stronger,” said Vice President Keith Babitz (’17).