Last year D-E’s varsity robotics squad, Critical Mass 0207, competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship. That level of success has inspired not only Critical Mass but also D-E’s other two other robotics teams, Absolute Zero and Quantum Smashers, to aim high for the 2017-18 school year. All are off to a great start competing locally and regionally. In particular, Critical Mass won the first Northern New Jersey Qualifier in early December, earning a spot and winning New Jersey State Championship in February 2018, and (at press time) planning to compete in the FTC Super Regionals in Scranton, PA — one of 72 teams from Maine to West Visginia that have qualified. Along with continuing to work on refining their robot design, the team is now focused on developing their autonomous system and honing their driver skills.
Dedication is what breeds this kind of success, according to Co-Advisor Chris Fleischl, who describes team members as “some of the hardest working students on our campus, giving up their free periods, after school time, and sometimes the weekend too, to build their ’bots and compete.”
Building a robot and competing is not the only goal of the participating students. They also share their love and passion for robotics with the rest of the school and the local community. Working in collaboration with the Upper School Club WISE (Women in STEM Education), these students have collectively put in hundreds of hours mentoring the two newer robotics teams in our Upper School and working with students interested in robotics in our Middle and Lower Schools, as well as doing robotics workshops at the Englewood Public Library and Elementary School. They hope these younger students will one day share their passion, join the Robotics Team, and continue to pay it forward.
Fleischl notes, “These teams epitomize our D-E mission in action. As a coach I can only express my admiration and optimism for the hard work and dedication of our students. Every time they build and practice, every time they compete, regardless of success or failure, they always stay positive and think about what’s next and how they can improve going forward.”