MTA’s robotics team, Lionotics 2, is the first-ever yeshiva high school team to compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge East Region Super-Regional Championship.  The competition was held at Scranton University in Scranton, PA from Friday, March 16th through Sunday, March 18th. As the event overlapped with Shabbos, the team was faced with the dilemma of being unable to participate in rounds that took place on Saturday, March 17th.  Lionotics 2, with the help of MTA administrators and Yeshiva University’s Department of Legal Affairs, worked closely with FIRST representatives to reach a resolution that would enable the team to participate in the competition without compromising their religious observances.  “Our team worked tirelessly to advance to this level of the FIRST Tech Challenge competition,” said YUHSB Head of School Rabbi Joshua Kahn. “We are grateful to FIRST for promoting cultural diversity and making the accommodations necessary to enable our team to compete.”

While other competing teams played their matches over the course of 3 days, Lionotics 2 played all 9 of their matches back-to-back on Sunday, leaving no time to strategize or make required improvements and repairs to their robot.  Lionotics 2 was created this year to make room for students who wanted to join MTA’s robotics team, Lionotics, which was already full. Despite this being the team’s inaugural year, they surpassed the pre-existing MTA team in the FIRST Tech Challenge and won the NYC Championship to qualify for this event.  

As a rookie team with little to no competition experience, Lionotics 2 embraced the challenge of competing in consecutive rounds despite the disadvantage it presented.  “As soon as we met the boys we knew they had the passion for robotics, but more important, a thirst for learning and experiencing new challenges such as this competition,” said Tom Zawislak and Dave Hackett of Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics, the East Super Regional hosts who were instrumental in making the accommodations necessary for the team to compete.  “We were thrilled to see them engage with so many other teams and create fun for themselves and share their fun with others. They truly came ready to play and were competitive on the field throughout all of their matches. Very impressive performance by a rookie team!”

The competition started off with a win for Lionotics 2, but ultimately took a downturn as issues continued to arise.  “In one match, one of the robot’s critical components was smashed by another team’s robot and bent, and our team didn’t realize until the next round when it didn’t work right due to the rush from match to match,” explained Lionotics 2 team member Elishama Marmon (‘20).  “The robot also had connectivity issues, and there were several matches where it was unresponsive due to unplugged wires or glitches.” The team finished 23rd out of 36 teams in their division and as a result, will not move on to the World Championship. “Thanks to our experience at this competition, we now have a better understanding of what we need to do to win at such a high level,” said Marmon.  “We are working on improving the team and hope to advance to Worlds next year.”


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