Robo Cats compete at state championships

TORC students and mentors test functionality on the practice field. Photo provided.

By Liam Houston

TORC Student Team Member

Oxford High School’s FIRST Robotics Competition team, Team 2137 TORC (The Oxford Robo Cats) competed at the Michigan State Championship at Saginaw Valley State University this weekend.

For the competition, TORC was placed on the Ford field, one of four divisions at the event, and played with 39 other teams from across Michigan. They placed 37th in qualification matches and competing against many teams with amazing robots and well developed game strategies. After qualifications, they were not picked to join an alliance and did not continue onto the elimination matches.

“I think that the robot performed pretty well at the states,” said Craig Trombly, OHS mechatronics teacher and team mentor. “We had a series of unfortunate events that ultimately led us to a low ranking, but overall there were a lot of improvements to the robot from previous weeks. We were able to score hatch panels much better than before and were still able to score cargo and climb to level 3.”

TORC was also competing for the Chairman’s award. This award is the most prestigious award a team can receive, and teams can only compete for it at states if they have won the award at a district event. TORC was one of 28 excellent teams that competed for this award out of 542 teams state wide. They were not one of the five winners chosen to move on and compete at the world competition in Detroit.

Despite coming out of the state competition with a less than desirable outcome, TORC is determined to improve.

“For (the world competition), I want to drastically improve robot performance,” said Keira Houston, electrical student captain and drive team operator. “The expected level of competition is daunting, especially compared with what we faced at states. The drive team has already made plans to improve scoring against robot defense and improve visibility on the field, and the robot build and programming teams have also made plans to reduce weight, improve traction, and implement autonomous assisted scoring on the field (aka vision).”

Moving on from states, the team qualified to attend the FIRST Championship in Detroit both through their overall performance this season and from winning the Engineering Inspiration Award last year at the event.

“I am looking forward to seeing and meeting as many teams as I can. I want to learn about the things they do and what makes their team special,” said Mackenzie Funke, business and outreach student captain. “I am also looking forward to seeing how our robot competes.”

“I am looking forward to competing with teams from all over the world,”  said Eric Schimmel, team coach and mechanical mentor. “I am also looking forward to showing off our robot improvements and our drive team skills developed over the next two weeks.”

The 2019 FIRST Championship in Detroit will be held at the Cobo Center from April 24-27. For more information on the event and how to attend to cheer on the over 80 teams from Michigan that will be competing, visit

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