Two local H.S. teams competing in World Robotics Championship  

No flight of fancy, Carrboro and Chapel Hill high-school students are putting the engines of their ingenuity against the best in the world this week. Illustration credit: Roy Snyder at Pixabay.


by Gregory DL Morris

Robotics teams from Carrboro High School and East Chapel Hill High School will compete in Houston’s world championship tournament from April 17 through April 20. Offered by For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics, an international organization promoting international robotics competitions, the event can be viewed on this link:

Carrborobotics, Eastbots, and the Titanium Tigers from Chapel Hill High School placed first, second, and third in a state-wide robotics competition among 30 teams held March 2 and 3 at Chapel Hill High School.

The second district event was staged at UNC Asheville March 15-17, where Carrborobotics won the Autonomous Award in both events, according to Caroline Morais, lead faculty advisor for that team. After the two district events, the Carrborobotics team qualified for the FIRST North Carolina District State Championship, April 5-7, in which the team placed 6th out of 40 teams. That qualified the team for the championship tournament in Houston.

“Since the initial competitions we, and others, made some improvements in our robot to make it faster and more nimble,” said Aidan Martzloff, one of the Carrborobotics team captains. He called TLR Tuesday night after arriving in Houston. Remarkably, the team was started in 2019, and this is just its second year of competition since events resumed after the pandemic. 

“We have 15 students on our team,” said Martzloff, “ranging from freshmen to a senior. We only have four or five students who have ever competed before. Many are complete rookies who are new to robotics, but I’m confident that any one of them could now build and compete on their own.”

On Wednesday, each team arranged its pit, just as a NASCAR racing team’s pit crew would to prepare for competition. Qualifying matches are Thursday and Friday, with each team competing in five matches a day with breaks in between. The teams accumulating the most points in those qualifying matches advance to the championship round on Saturday.

FIRST publishes different parameters and rules for each year, and also sells a basic kit from which teams can build a robot that will be competitive in that year’s game. This year’s game has a musical theme and is called Crescendo. The idea is to pick up “notes,” dense foam rings about 14 inches across, and shoot them into goals. The robots are programmed to operate autonomously during the first 15 seconds of a match and then to be driven by students during the rest of the match.

(Here is a video intro explaining this year’s game.)

As most advanced teams do, all three local teams designed, built, and programmed their robots from scratch. The essential design decision was whether to have a fixed or adjustable mechanism for shooting the notes into the goal.

“We decided that the fixed angle was the way to go,” Martzloff explained. “That way we could spend more of our time and effort on the autonomous features and vision. We decided that reliability was the key to this year’s game (keeping it simple, with quick intakes and shots), and so far, that has been correct. In the first round of competition, we were one of only a few teams that were able to shoot well.”

Gregory DL Morris is a business journalist and historian who reports regularly for TLR.

This reporter can be reached at

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1 Comment on "Two local H.S. teams competing in World Robotics Championship  "

  1. Darrell G Kohr | April 29, 2024 at 10:42 am | Reply

    Article “Two local H.S. teams competing in World Robotics Championship” – Could you please do an article on the results?

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