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Lakenheath ‘Robo-Lancers’ to compete in world championship

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A member of the Lakenheath High School Robo-Lancers conducts a performance inspection on the team robot at Lakenheath High School on Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 8, 2018. The Robo-Lancers qualified for the FIRST Tech Challenge world championships for the first time in team history. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher S. Sparks)

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A member of the Lakenheath High School Robo-Lancers connects circuit wires to the team robot at Lakenheath High School on Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 8, 2018. The Robo-Lancers spent six months building, programming and troubleshooting their robot prior to competition. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher S. Sparks)

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Two members of the Lakenheath High School Robo-Lancers adjust controller settings at Lakenheath High School on Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, March 8, 2018. The team members manually input operating programs for their robot to use during competition. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher S. Sparks)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- The Lakenheath High School ‘Robo-Lancers’ robotics club took first place in the Department of Defense Education Activity Europe Invitational at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 23-24, qualifying them to compete in the For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology (FIRST) Tech Challenge world championships.

This is the first time they have qualified for the world championship in the team’s seven-year history.

“I’m so proud of the accomplishments of my team,” said Anita Lang, career and technical education teacher at Lakenheath High School and robotics club sponsor. “They exceeded every expectation I had for this season.”

During the two-day qualifying competition, the Robo-Lancers topped 20 different teams representing a total of four countries. Using guidance from their mentors and utilizing teamwork, they capitalize on the strengths of each member to perform certain tasks for the robot during competition.

“It shows that we have good team work, a lot of talent on the team and that we have the ability to create something wonderful,” a member of the robotics team said. “Communication is very important. Everybody has their different strong suits, and we benefit from it when we work together.”

The teams had to use their respective robots to complete three different tasks. Each robots had to gather and stack blocks in a specified area and order, perform isolated functions programmed by the team, and perform user-operated controls for two minutes.

“The goal is for the students to become cohesive problem solvers,” Lang said. “They’re a really close knit team, and I think they’ve gotten really good.”

Developing their ideas from scratch, the team spent six months building, programming and troubleshooting their robot according to regulations presented to them at the beginning of the season.

“They come up with some pretty creative ideas,” said Alexander Clifford, a mentor for the team. “Some of the ideas are pretty wild, but they end up working, and it’s impressive.”

The Robo-Lancers showed their strength during the 30-second “autonomous period” where the robots are operated using programs they developed.

“Our robot was one of the only robots that could do the autonomous period,” the team member said. “It helped us get through the qualifying round and we ended up winning. We didn’t expect that.”

With the world championship around the corner, the team is busy making minor modifications and improvements to get their robot ready for competition.

The FIRST Tech Challenge world championships is scheduled to take place April 24 -28 in Detroit, Michigan, where the Robo-Lancers will compete against teams from across the world to take the top spot.