INDIANAPOLIS — It was a great day for local teams competing at the Indiana Robotics State Championship on Saturday in Lucas Oil Stadium.
All but two of the 18 teams from Hancock County — all of which were from New Palestine and Greenfield — advanced to the world championships, to take place April 25 through May 4 in Dallas, Texas.
New Palestine High School’s head robotics coach, Dave Post, was also honored as Robotics Mentor of the Year.
“It was quite an honor,” said Post, who has been coaching robotics ever since he started teaching technology-based courses at the high school eight years ago.
Although robotics competitions didn’t exist when his children were young, Post said he’s been having a blast coaching students in a fun pastime that taps into all the learning elements of STEM — science, technology, engineering and math.
“I really love doing this,” he said.
“I coached athletes when I was younger, and robotics gives a lot of these kids that same exposure to competition and all the great life lessons that brings — how to win, how to lose, how to communicate. It’s just just a great opportunity for these kids to experience.”
Post was thrilled to see three of his four teams qualify for the world championships at Saturday’s contest after a fourth team was eliminated in the quarterfinals.
“This has been our best year ever. The kids have just done really well,” he said. “What was different about this year is we’ve had several good teams, whereas typically you only have one or two. The beauty of it is that we don’t have any seniors, so hopefully everybody will be coming back next year.”
Team members from New Palestine High School compete at the 2023 Indiana Robotics State Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium. Saturday, March 25, 2023. (Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)
Close up view of one of the robots used by the New Palestine High School team at the 2023 Indiana Robotics State Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium. Saturday, March 25, 2023. (Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)
Team members from New Palestine High School work on their machine before their round of competition at the 2023 Indiana Robotics State Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium. Saturday, March 25, 2023. (Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)
Hancock County teams that advanced to the world championships at Saturday’s contest include five teams from Montessori Science Academy in New Palestine, three from Greenfield-Central High School, three from New Palestine High School, three from New Palestine Junior High School, one from New Palestine Intermediate School and one from Sugar Creek Elementary School in New Palestine.
Hosted by the TechPoint Foundation for Youth — a leader in K-12 STEM education — Indiana’s state robotics contest is the largest robotics state championship in the United States, drawing 318 teams and more than 1,600 students this year.
Hancock County families flocked to Lucas Oil Stadium to watch student-built robots go head-to-head, accumulating points by completing a series of tasks.
Brandon Wilson of New Palestine beamed with pride as he watched his sons team-up to advance to the final round.
While not on the same team, sophomore Benjamin Wilson and freshman Joseph Wilson plotted in advance to join forces if given the opportunity at the state championships.
Since every top-placing team can select another team to collaborate with in the final rounds, Benjamin didn’t hesitate to select his little brother’s team, a move which would win the New Palestine High School students second place in the finals and a ticket to the world championships next month.
Jason Greulich, who helps coach the robotics teams at New Palestine Junior High School, was also grinning ear to ear watching his son Austin finish big at Saturday’s competition.
“So many Hancock County teams did so great this year, it was fun to see,” said Greulich, whose family headed to Iowa for yet another robotics competition — an invitational meet — soon after the state championships came to a close on Saturday.
Thirteen-year-old Austin, an eighth grader at New Palestine Middle School, has qualified for the world championships every year since the fifth grade.
Last year, he was declared the third best middle school coder in the state, and his team won its division in the world championships.
Even when the COVID pandemic virtually brought the school-based robotics program to a halt in 2020 and 2021, Greulich continued coaching robotics from home.
“Austin loves all aspects of robotics, but coding is probably his favorite. Coding is something he wants to do when he grows up, so it’s a great way for him to get real-life experience doing something he enjoys,” said his dad, who enjoys helping students improve their robotics skills each year.
“Not everyone sees all the hard work and effort that these kids put in behind the scenes, working after school and at home, so it’s great to see them succeed,” he said.
As Greulich was enjoying another robotics tournament on Monday, Wilson got busy planning fundraisers to offset the cost for his sons and their teammates to travel to the world championships in Dallas next month.
“We figure it will cost about $2,500 per student, so we’re trying to raise at least $1,500 per student and the parents can cover the rest,” said Wilson, an engineer who has been coaching his sons’ robotics teams for years.