Robotics Team Brings Home 6 State Championship Trophies

Ranney School’s Robotics Team, including 24 Upper and Middle School students and seven robots, competed at the New Jersey VEX Robotics State Championship on February 22 in Cherry Hill, NJ, ultimately earning six trophies. Thirty-six of the 85 VEX robots that have been competing in schools across New Jersey this season were present at the State Championship.

Four Ranney robots won awards at the state championship, and one robot earned qualification for the VEX World Championship, to be held in April in Anaheim, California. “Only five robots from New Jersey will be present at the World Championship and it’s an honor that one of those robots comes from Ranney School,” says Robotics Program Faculty Advisor Chiara Shah.

At the state competition, a total of six out of the 17 available awards were earned by Ranney robots. The school’s trophy total for the year is now an impressive 17 (see complete list below).

Robot 3815B, led by sophomore Brandon Gioggia (Belford) and assisted by Coleen Ross ’15 (Morganville), won three awards. The first award was the top award of the day: the Excellence Award, which is presented to a “team that exemplifies overall excellence in building a well-rounded VEX robotics program. This team excels in many areas and is a shining example of dedication, devotion, hard work and teamwork. As a strong contender in numerous award categories, this team deserves to be recognized for building a quality robot and a ‘team’ committed to quality in everything that they do.”

This award is a qualifier for the VEX World Championship. Judges lauded the Ranney team for “setting an example in leadership, cooperative spirit and being strong competitors.” Benjamin Mitchell, organizer of the New Jersey VEX Robotics Competitions and Executive Director of Garden State Robotics, specifically praised team member Coleen Ross for “her enthusiasm during matches and for going the extra mile by helping reset the fields after each match. It’s a small gesture, but makes everything run a bit better.”

Not only was Robot 3815B in first place after the qualification rounds, but it also won two other awards: Tournament Finalist, given to the runners-up of the competition; and Robot Skills Champion, for earning the highest score of the day in the individual driver-skills category.

Mr. Mitchell wrote in a letter to the school, “I would like to personally congratulate you both not only for your school's outstanding performance in the New Jersey State Championships, but for their entire season. The Ranney School Robotics Program has set an example of excellence for all of the teams in our state, and I am very happy that your team 3815B will be one of the teams representing New Jersey at the World Championships. The Excellence award puts them in a very selective category at the World Championships - only a fraction of the teams that make it to Worlds can claim this distinction.”

“This team has excelled all year,” says Mrs. Shah. “It’s been a pleasure watching this robot evolve over the course of last summer and this school year, and it’s been especially rewarding watching Brandon take on a leadership role within the club, helping the newer students with their programming and design.”

Three other Ranney Robotics teams won trophies at the State Championship competition.

Team 3815A – led by junior Raymond Moser (Shrewsbury) and assisted by Ava Papetti ’15 (Colts Neck) – won the Innovate Award for “out of the box thinking and an impressive use of pneumatics on his robot.” Their robot’s design included pneumatics that served three different functions, including an ability to hang off the field while holding a large ball. “The Innovate Award is presented to a team that has demonstrated a strong combination of ingenuity and innovation in designing their VEX robot. This award will typically recognize a specific, unique piece of engineering that exemplifies thinking outside of the box and innovative engineering design.” In addition to this award, this team came in fifth place after the qualification rounds, and was one of six alliance captains going into the final rounds of competition.

Team 3815F, Ranney’s all-female freshman team (see team roster below) won a Build Award. “The Build Award is given to a team that has built a well-crafted and constructed robot that also shows a clear dedication to safety and attention to detail.” Judges look for robots that have a professional feel and quality look to them, with clear attention to detail in construction, efficient use of mechanical and electronic components, and reliability on the competition field. This team came in eighth place after the qualification rounds and was one of the six alliance captains going into the final matches.

Team 3815G, led by eighth-grader Kiran Shah (Manalapan) and assisted by eighth-grader Akin Gaddis (Red Bank), won the Think Award, given for programming excellence. Judges were impressed with this team’s use of sensors and programming, and clear ability to describe their code to the judges during the judges’ interview. “The Think Award is presented to a team that has successfully utilized autonomous programming modes during competition. The winning team will have quality, consistent and successful autonomous programs as part of their strategy and team members will be able to explain their programming process from strategy to syntax.” In addition to this award, this team came in 11th place after the qualification rounds.

Overall, Ranney students had three robots place in the top 10 of the State Championship (Robot 3815B, first place; Robot 3815A, fifth place; and Robot 3815F, eighth place). Another two robots placed in the top 15 (Robot 3815G, 11th place and Robot 3815E, 15th place). All seven of our robots were in the top 25 (Robot 3815D, 20th place and Robot 3815C, 25th place). Below is a list of the team members.
  • 3815A: Raymond Moser (Team Leader, Engineer and Driver) and Ava Papetti (Coach)
  • 3815B: Brandon Gioggia (Team Leader, Engineer and Driver) and Coleen Ross (Coach)
  • 3815C: Amy Winkler ’15 (Manasquan, Team Leader, Engineer and Driver) amd Kylie Medlin ’15 (Marlboro, Coach)
  • 3815D: Vasilios Nicholas ’16 (Holmdel, Team Leader, Engineer and Driver) and Zach Sullens ’16 (Holmdel, Engineer and Driver)
  • 3185E: Kevin Xia ’17 (Colts Neck, Team Leader, Engineer, and Driver); Adam Mohammad ‘17 (Middletown, Team Leader, Engineer and Programmer); Benjamin Iglesia ‘17 (West Allenhurst, Engineer); Dylan Biswal ‘17 (Millstone Twp., Engineer); Kyle Lubin (Engineer) and Nicholas Ross ’17 (Rumson, Engineer)
  • 3815F: Aidan Denver-Moore ’17 (Bay Head, Engineer); Dana Scioppo ’17 (Freehold, Engineer, Programmer); Grace Hofferber ‘17 (Bay Head, Engineer and Programmer); Jillian Ross (Engineer); Olivia Nisbet ’17 (Monmouth Beach, Engineer and Driver) and Brittany Hofferber ‘17 (Bay Head, Engineer and Engineering Notebook)
  • 3815G: Kiran Shah ’17 (Team Leader, Engineer and Drive) and Akin Gaddis (Engineering Notebook, Coach). Unfortunately, Gerald “Chip” Johnson ’17 (Freehold, Coach) of this team was unable to attend the state competition.

Other students present at the States were Avani Bhatnagar’15 (Holmdel) and Samantha Chiarello ’15 (Holmdel), co-treasurers of the Ranney Robotics Club.
“I am so proud of our students and their teacher/coach, Mrs. Shah, and I am in awe of the amazing things they have accomplished this year,” said Upper School Head Paul Zanowski after the competition. “Programs like Robotics foster so many of the skills and capacities we know lead people to success in all walks of life—creativity, problem-solving, teamwork, bouncing back from ‘technical difficulties’ and frustration, and more. The growth of the program and the success of our students speaks volumes about the commitment parents and teachers bring to the school’s mission.”

“I think it is fantastic that our Middle School students have met with such success in their first year of Robotics competition,” adds Middle School Head David Fischer. “Their time and dedication to this new pursuit is a great example to their peers and they give hope and excitement to our other students, and to the future of our program as well. This is especially important when we are investing so much time and talent into helping the Robotics program grow. Clearly, Robotics has a very bright future at Ranney School.”
Overall, Ranney Robotics has earned a total of 17 awards during the 2013-2014 season. Listed, in order by date are:

1) 11/16/2013: Innovate Award, Team 3815A2) 12/7/2013: Excellence Award, Team 3815A3) 1/11/2014: Tournament Champion, Team 3815A4) 1/11/2014: Tournament Champion, Team 3815B5) 1/11/2014: Amaze Award, Team 3815D6) 1/25/2014: Tournament Champion, Team 3815B7) 1/25/2014: Tournament Champion, Team 3815D8) 1/25/2014: Tournament Champion, Team 3815F9) 1/25/2014: Excellence Award, Team 3815B10)2/1/2014: Tournament Champion, Team 3815B11)2/8/2014: Judges Award, Team 3815G12)2/22/2014: Tournament Finalist, Team 3815B13)2/22/2014: Robot Skills Champion, Team 3815B14)2/22/2014: Excellence Award, Team 3815B15)2/22/2014: Innovate Award, Team 3815A16)2/22/2014: Build Award, Team 3815F17)2/22/2014: Think Award, Team 3815G

Although this is the end of the season for most of our robots, says Mrs. Shah, Ranney does have two robots attending the CREATE U.S. Open Robotics Championship (VEX High School Division) in Omaha in early April. Robots 3815A and 3815B qualified for this national event by winning a tournament earlier in the season.

In addition, many of our teams will now shift their focus away from their own robots to helping our winning robot, 3815B led by Brandon Gioggia and Coleen Ross, with all of the details it needs to successfully compete at the VEX World Championship in Anaheim, California, April 24-26.

For instance, Raymond Moser will be working with Brandon to help add a “hanging with ball” feature to the robot (the feature that won his robot the Innovate Award at States) and our students will scrimmage against Brandon to practice. “We hope to have many of our students at Worlds with us to scout out the competition, form alliances and cheer on Brandon and Coleen as they compete,” says Mrs. Shah.

Click here for more Robotics.

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