St. John Robotics team competes in qualifying competition

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
The St. John Robotics team includes from left, front, John Morgan Romig, Jordan Brown and Ben Poirrier. Top, Blake Blanchard, coach William Gregg and Nick Lefebvre. 
COURTESY PHOTO/Donna Kirkland

The Eagles Robotics team from St John Parochial school recently competed in the “Vex Robotics World Qualifying Competition” held in New Orleans. 

Team members are Blake Blanchard, Jordan Brown, Nick Lafebvre, Ben Poirrier and John Romig. Their mentor/coach is William Gregg. 

The school received a grant from Red Stick Robotics Corp. and NASA to buy two Vex Robot kits to build and computer program.  They have been working all year for this competition.

After they were told what kind of tasks the robot would have to perform, they had to design it in order to move through an obstacle course with the appropriate sensors and “arms” to find and deliver certain objects to a designated location. 

They also had to design a “defensive” system since they would be competing against other robots. They settled on one with a claw and the other one with a scoop. 

The team attended workshops at LSU to learn how to write software programs to control the robot. It had to work “autonomously” and with driver controlled joystick.

Their first competition was in January at Louisiana Tech in Ruston. There were 16 teams from Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana competing.

Unfortunately, their software developed a virus and essentially wasn’t controllable.  As hard as they worked to fix the problem during the competition, they weren’t successful.

Over the next three weeks they built a completely new robot with

new software. They took the new robot to the Vex Robotics World Qualifying Competition held at the University of New Orleans on Feb. 16. 

There were 34 teams from Galveston and Ladonia, Texas, Aberdeen, Mississippi and New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Slidell, Lafayette, Hammond, Ruston and many other places in between.  After the qualifying rounds St John placed 9th and moved on the finals. The 24 top teams were grouped in three school “teams” to compete in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

St John’s group included St Thomas Aquinas Catholic school and Louisiana Technology Student Association. 

They won the quarterfinals, but were later beaten in the semifinals by the team that eventually won the match - Austin High School and Ball High School from Galveston, Texas.

St John was in the group that was considered to be tied for third in the match. They were the highest ranked (9th) team to advance to the semifinals. 

Congratulations to the St John “Eagle” Robotics team for their hard work and recognition.