UPPER SAUCON TWP., Pa. - Hundreds of fans packed Lehigh University's Stabler Arena Friday to cheer on their teams. But the main players in these games aren't human. Twenty-three students at Palisades High School in Bucks County are part of what's called the varsity sport for the mind. Their technology team the Cybersonics went head to head against 50 other high school robotics groups.
"It's part of Pennsylvania, part of New Jersey, and part of Delaware that all come together in order to play at this higher level competition," explained Palisades junior Karl Dehmelt.
Welcome to the Mid-Atlantic Robotics Region Championship. The remote controlled robots were built from scratch over six weeks. Students had to design, build, and program their bot. This competition is dubbed "Ultimate Ascent," they have to play defense and throw frisbees through targets.
"We shoot from behind the pyramid, from the pyramid, middle of the pyramid," described senior Troy Rutherford. "Anywhere we want to, we have adjustable levels."
The robots even climb ten foot tall pyramids for extra points. Teams of three schools work together forming alliances, the goal is to make a good team a great team.
"That match went excellent," smiled Rutherford. "We did what we were supposed to, what we talked about without alliance partners."
Each year the Cybersonics raise about $100,000 through fundraising and corporate sponsors to build the robot and travel to competitions like this one. The team has been going strong at the high school since 1997.
"We started it because we thought it was a good thing for students," shared Palisades teacher and Cybersonics mentor Cathy Beck. "It's a great way to connect to science, math, engineering, technology."
In two weeks the team will face tough competition, facing off against 400 teams at nationals in St. Louis. But win or lose these students are taking much more away.
"It's a great team, great experience," said Rutherford. "I got a job after high school because of this team."
"Because of this team I've been able to really get exposure to the corporate world and the professional setting," added Dehmelt.
Competition continues Saturday when the winners will be announced.
Allentown, PA 18102