Progress with robots

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From time to time, we’ve written about the progress of the Rome Free Academy VEX Robotics Club’s Black Knights team. Today, we’re happy to congratulate the students for earning an invitation to the virtual state regional championship event on April 17, after finally getting its first taste of competition for the 2020-21 season in mid-January, according to club President Jon Denton.

As reported in a Daily Sentinel news story, although the end of its prior season and the start of its current one were disrupted by COVID-19 impacts, the Black Knights team rebounded with strong showings in recent competitive events.

The team had been invited by the Chittenango High School VEX Robotics Club to join an in-person league involving 10 teams that met about a half-dozen times through mid-March. On March 19, he said, “we officially finished in first place...which in turn earns us an invitation to the virtual state regional championships,” Denton added.

At the start of last week, RFA was ranked third in the state and first among the northern New York teams against whom it typically competes. He further said that with 2,000-plus teams nationwide, “we were ranked 73rd.”

As we reported last spring, the RFA Black Knights team had earned a spot to compete in Louisville, Ky. for the VEX Robotics World Championship, but the event was canceled due to COVID-19. Then, once a new challenge event for 2020-21 was issued in May last year, he said, “we began redesigning and rebuilding the team robot” through predominantly virtual meetings; designing, building, programming and testing occurred through spring, summer and fall. But most local events were pushed back due to concerns relating to COVID-19.

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