On the Road to Mid-Atlantic Region Championships


After a long six-week build season, where the 34 members of Hatboro Horsham’s robotics team were tasked with prototyping, designing, assembling, coding and testing a fully-functioning robot, the team was finally ready for competition on March 4. However, one hard hit led to a jam of the robot’s telescoping elevator. Unable to pick up the game pieces, an audible sigh of frustration permeated through HH’s student section in the bleachers. 

With the Hatters’ second competition of the season less than two-weeks away, they had to rebuild, strengthen and reassemble Duke, their 2023 robot.

Over the span of 11 days, Team 708 worked for over 50 hours, both after school and on the weekend, to thicken gusset plates, add more rivets, create a more sustainable elevator design and add additional reinforcements to prevent another accident. Team presentations were also revised, and a second game piece intake mechanism was assembled to serve as a backup for the one assembled on the robot.

On Friday Mar. 17, the journey began for the new and improved robot at another qualification event at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. After practice matches on Friday and Saturday morning, Duke jumped into its 12 qualification matches around lunchtime on Saturday. In each of these matches, HH’s robot was teamed up with two other schools to help defeat a group of three opponent robots playing on the same field. 

This season, specifically, robots have to place cones and cubes onto nodes and shelves, respectively, and finish the match by attempting to balance on an eight foot by four foot platform with the other two robots on their team, encouraging teamwork between the drivers. The first 15 seconds of the match are autonomous, meaning the robot’s performance is solely based on coding. The remaining two minutes and fifteen seconds of the match are controlled by the driver and operator using control systems such as XBox controllers or steering wheels. By doing certain groups of tasks or winning awards, ranking points are earned, which ultimately determine where teams fall in the district ranks. The top 60 teams from the district are granted the opportunity to move on to a final competition.

Sophomore John Zygmont drove HH’s robot, junior Kevin Allison operated and senior Jonathan Weinstein was the human player.

Following the 12 qualification matches, Hatboro-Horsham ranked ninth of the 31 teams and was selected to be part of the eight permanent playoff alliances (the top eight teams draft an alliance that stays the same for the entirety of the playoffs).

Despite a loss in the first playoff match, Duke and the drive team rallied back to post three consecutive wins before falling to the Krypton Cougars–a joint team between Palmyra and Hershey High School–which are currently ranked first of the 151 FIRST robotics team in the Mid-Atlantic district.

“Hearing the cheering after every point we scored… cemented the feeling that I was part of a team that was in it together,” junior Sneha Indrakanti said.

Even the kids not on the drive team were excited from the stands.

“I was elated,” sophomore Aidan Rafferty said in regard to Team 708’s advancement. “I had been hoping to advance, and when we did, we were all so happy.”

Now, there are about two weeks to go before HH competes in the First Mid-Atlantic District Championship in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Here, the top 20 teams in the district will be granted the opportunity to participate in the FIRST championship, which is taking place in Houston, Texas beginning on April 18.

With one weekend of competitions to go, Hatboro-Horsham is ranked twenty-first in the district.