Saint John’s robotics team headed to state finals

Alex Bennett (left) and Alan Claiborne work on a robot.

Shrewsbury – The Pioneer Robotics team of Saint John’s High School has earned one of only 32 spots in the state finals of the First Tech Challenge competition, to be held Saturday, March 3, in Natick.

The team, which is in its first year of competition, has gone undefeated through 18 matches at two qualifying tournaments in Lexington and Arlington. In a match at Arlington Feb. 10, the Pioneer Robotics Team, working with fellow team IrRaTiONAl, of Lexington, achieved a score of 543, placing the team in the top 10 in the country for this year’s challenge.

First Tech Challenge is an international robotics competition with more than 5,000 participating teams in multiple countries. Participants must design, build and program a robot capable of completing a set of challenges that are unique to each year. During the first 30 seconds of a match, the robot is completely autonomous, moving and making decisions based on preprogrammed instructions. In the final minute and a half, the robot is controlled by a team of drivers.

First Tech Challenge is also based heavily on outreach to the community and the promotion of STEM, with slots in the state contest devoted solely to teams who live out this mission. Pioneer Robotics was honored to be the recipient of the Inspire Award at the Lexington competition, earning them one these spots.


The team after its first qualifier win in Lexington,  Mass. on Jan. 6. (l to r, top row), Dr. Edward Tonelli, Craig Taranto , Max Yan, Victor Szabo, Syon Khosla, Alex Bennett, Ryan Rivard, Millan Taranto, Alex Johnson, Luc Bastarache, Varun
Subbaih, Dlyan Celli, Carter Aubrey, John Bastarache, Matthew Grden, Roma Taranto, Axel Johnson (l to r, bottom row)  Max Vinzi, Alan Claiborne, and Francis Delemerced (dressed as school mascot)