Robotics Students Place Second, Third in International Competition

Thursday, July 11, 2019
Dalton Fitzsimmons ’20, Diego Morgan ’20, Brent Ditzler ’19, and Leo Li ’20 took third place at RoboCup International.

Eight Mercersburg Academy students competed in RoboCup International 2019 July 2-8 in Sydney, Australia. The Rapidly Manufactured Robot Challenge (RMRC) team of Joseph Lieber ’19, Brandon Lamer-Connolly ’20, Collin Morris ’19, and Gary Zheng ’20 took second place, and the OnStage team of Dalton Fitzsimmons ’20, Brent Ditzler ’19, Leo Li ’20, and Diego Morgan ’20 finished third.

The RMRC’s second-place finish marks the fourth consecutive year a Mercersburg team took second place in the world at the international competition. 

"We are so proud of our students," said Julie Maurer ’90, associate head of school for school life and mathematics and robotics faculty. "They worked hard, competed with integrity, and displayed good sportsmanship. Placing at the international level is truly an exceptional accomplishment — they were competing with the best in the world."

The OnStage team qualified in May at RoboCupJunior USA 2019 in New York City, with the Rapidly Manufactured Robot Challenge (RMRC) team qualifying by virtue of its second-place finish at the international competition in Canada last summer. (Lieber was one of three members of the RMRC team in 2018.)

In the OnStage competition, teams are charged with developing a creative stage performance using autonomous robots that they have designed, built, and programmed. The objective is to create a 1-2 minute robotic performance that uses technology to engage an audience. The challenge is intended to be open-ended; teams are encouraged to be as creative, innovative, and entertaining as possible, both in the design of the robots and the design of the overall performance.

The Rapidly Manufactured Robot Challenge is part of the RoboCupRescue Robot competition. RMRC promotes the development of low-cost, rapidly manufacturable small (30 cm width) robots and robotic components that enable first responders to more safely and effectively perform hazardous mission tasks.

The students were accompanied by faculty members Julia Stojak Maurer ’90 (associate head of school for school life), Jeff Cohen (math faculty and outgoing department head); and Matt Maurer (English and theatre faculty). 

This year marks the 10th consecutive year for Mercersburg students to compete at the international level. 

At RoboCupJunior USA 2019 in May, 25 Mercersburg students competed, with the team (called the “Blue Storm”) taking first place in the advanced OnStage category and receiving the programming award. In the Rescue category, Blue Storm (Rescue B) received the algorithm award for the line competition and Blue Storm (Rescue A) earned the hardware design award for the line competition. In the soccer category, Blue Storm took second place in the lightweight secondary competition. 

A total of 47 Mercersburg students have now taken part in international RoboCup competitions since 2007. Check out the team’s blog for photos and more updates from this year’s competition and details about their travels.