Teams Compete at Philadelphia Scrimmage

Fifteen high school robotics teams competed Saturday in the FIRST Tech Challenge Philadelphia Scrimmage in Central High School’s gym. The teams have been working since September to design and build robots to play this year’s space-themed game, Rover Ruckus. In addition to the robot, teams expand their communication and teamwork skills, keep an engineering notebook, and prepare presentations for a panel of judges.

The Ambassadors from Bodine High School watch a match at the Philadelphia Scrimmage. Photo Credit: Art Jiang

The scrimmage was hosted by the Central High School RoboLancers in partnership with the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition, Pennsylvania FIRST Robotics, and the School District of Philadelphia. A FIRST LEGO League tournament for 4th-8th graders was held simultaneously in the other half of the gym, bringing a total of 40 teams and 100 volunteers together for a full day of friendly competition.

View a recap video of the whole event.

The scrimmage winners RoboLancers Gold from Central High School and Divide by Zero, a homeschool team from Harleysville, PA. Philadelphia’s FIRST Tech Challenge teams will return to Central High School on Saturday January 12th for the Philadelphia Qualifying Tournament to see which teams will advance to the state championship in March.

RoboLancers Gold from Central High School, the winning alliance captain climbs aboard the Rover Ruckus Lander with their alliance partner Divide by Zero from Harleysville, PA. Photo credit: Art Jiang

Philadelphia Robotics Coalition Honored by the Phillies

Philadelphia Robotics Coalition Executive Director Michael Johnson and Director at Large Sean Gallagher were honored guests at the Phillies Charities Holiday Party on December 6th in the Diamond Club at Citizens Bank Park. They were presented with the 2018 Community Hero Award and Grant, and had the opportunity to share their work with the other guests. And of course the Phillie Phanatic was on hand to join in the merriment.

Michael Johnson and Sean Gallagher meet the Phanatic at the Phillies Charities Holiday Party.

Philadelphia Robotics Coalition Named 2018 Community Hero by Phillies Charities, Inc.

The Philadelphia Phillies charity arm has named the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition a 2018 Community Hero and selected us to receive a $15,000 grant to further our robotics outreach work in Philadelphia.

The Phillies Press Office said “In honor of #GivingTuesday, Phillies Charities, Inc. is saluting dozens of local charities and organizations who are making an impact in the Phillies’ major league and minor league communities. All of these community heroes will be honored for their charitable efforts on Thursday, December 6, at the Phillies Charities, Inc. Holiday Giving Party at Citizens Bank Park. This special event will also recognize those who were selected to receive a 2018 Phillies Charities, Inc. grant, distributed so that their community efforts could continue.”

View the complete list of 2018 honorees here.

The Phillie Phanatic and friends met the Central High School RoboLancers and their robot at the 2018 Widener Day.

Press Release: Philadelphia Robotics Coalition publicly launches, seeks funding to expand impact

Already impacting 22 schools, the Coalition seeks $75,000 additional annual funding to increase reach to more schools across Philadelphia

September 22, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — Dr. William Hite, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, joined with Philadelphia elected officials, philanthropic leaders and educators to help publicly unveil the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition and its $75,000 fundraising campaign to make robotics programs accessible to every Philadelphia public high school student.

The Philadelphia Robotics Coalition was quietly launched in 2016 to supplement STEM education in Philadelphia schools. It connects schools with financial resources and mentors to start and sustain FIRST robotics teams.

Teams supported by the coalition face off against other schools in the FIRST Tech Challenge in which they design and build robots that work together in teams to perform specific tasks. This year, the challenge is called Rover Ruckus — a space-themed game where robots mine ore on an imaginary planet to earn points.

Last year, thanks to support from the Neubauer Family Foundation, the coalition was able to serve students in 22 schools — running workshops and providing grants and mentors that expand engineering and science opportunities while teaching skills in leadership and teamwork.

“High-quality STEM education and robotics programs are extremely important because they help our students learn how to think critically, problem-solve, and ask questions about their surroundings,” said Dr. Hite. “They also help students prepare for meaningful college and career experiences, whether or not they pursue a STEM-related field. We are proud to partner with the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition to help expand these opportunities to more students across the city.”

Dr. Hite was joined at an event Saturday by City Councilman Bobby Henon, District students and teachers, Rebecca Cornejo, Executive Director of the Neubauer Family Foundation, and Michael Johnson, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition and Central High School’s robotics coach.

The coalition was founded to ensure continued funding and support for science and engineering programs in Philadelphia during times of fiscal uncertainty. To confront this issue, the RoboLancers, Central High School’s robotics team, stepped up and launched the coalition to support a collaborative ecosystem that supports robotics teams through grants and mentorship.

“When I started at Central in 2014, the number of FIRST Tech Challenge teams in Philadelphia was dwindling,” said Johnson. “We launched this Coalition to bring stability and robust support to Philadelphia teams so that our robotics community could grow and flourish.”

The Neubauer Family Foundation stepped up and agreed to become the coalition’s first major philanthropic supporter, through a three-year $25,000 per year challenge grant.

“The Coalition has thus far exceeded all of the milestones set forth in our grant—engaging greater numbers of students, teachers, mentors and supporters than anticipated,” said Cornejo. “And, this is only the beginning. The Coalition has great potential to not only impact thousands of students in our city, but also provide a path for innovation in robotics and STEM education nationwide.”

The $75,000 the coalition seeks to raise will enable it to intensify its support for teams already in the program, building stability that will ensure their longevity, while also expanding the program to more schools across the city.

In addition to financial support, the coalition connects teams to adult engineers, tradespeople and other professionals who can serve as mentors to teams and inspire future careers in STEM. Last year, the coalition began a partnership with the U.S. Navy to provide mentors to teams in six schools.

“Mentors make all the difference for students looking to get involved with an exciting chance to get hands-on experience with STEM,” said Vicki Baker, the coach of the robotics team at the Philadelphia High School for Girls, which receives grant funding from the coalition. “I have witnessed students with no background in robotics, engineering or science for that matter learn the creative problem-solving process, dive into engineering design and win competitions. They have become eloquent public speakers, expert writers and have been transformed into conscientious students eager to pursue STEM careers and college.”

The Girls’ High team has been a consistent winner, qualifying for the state championship two years in a row. “For me, robotics has redefined the word ‘impossible’,” said Lynda Lam, a senior on the team. “‘Impossible’ no longer means we can’t. We’ve experienced success — now there are nothing but endless possibilities.”

Megan Lello,
Michael Johnson,

RoboRUMBLE 2018

RoboRUMBLE, the annual FTC off-season event for Philadelphia area teams, was huge success! This event was sponsored by the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition and the Central High School RoboLancers. During this event, 13 Philadelphia teams participated in FIRST Relic Recovery at Central High School, located in Philadelphia, PA. While photographing this event, I was able to witness first hand the excitement and competitiveness of these wonderful teams. It was interesting seeing all of the different ideas develop into 13 individual robots. During this event, the Student Advisory Committee of the Philadelphia Robotics Coalition was introduced. This committee serves to include a diversity of ideas and opinions from students all across Philadelphia. Students will be able to connect with business leaders, mentors, government, and be a part of the decision making process of the non-profit organization.

Additionally, we were able to give numerous awards to deserving teams, dedicated coaches and special volunteers. Thank you to all the teams and volunteers that participated!

Philadelphia FTC Qualifier 2018

On January 20, 2018, the RoboLancers hosted the Philadelphia FTC Qualifier at Central High School. It was a fantastic event with 25 teams from the Philadelphia area attending and competing in Relic Recovery over the span of the 8 hour event. Many of the teams funded by the Coalition participated in the event, such as 8730 Robogriffins, 13240 Swenson Robotics, 6552 N.E.R.D.S., and 5514 Parkway Robohounds. The winning alliance included 8730 Robogriffins, 6540 Lincoln1, and 5320 RoboLancers Gold. Although these three won the event, many other teams walked out with rewards for their endeavors, such as the Inspire Award, Connect Award, and Judge’s Award, won by 8480 Technobots, 6552 N.E.R.D.S., and 10002 Herculean Dynamite respectively. All of the Coalition funded teams performed well at the event, from winning awards to being on the winning alliance, showing just how much hard work and dedication these teams put into FIRST. Overall, the FTC Philadelphia Qualifier was an exciting event that highlighted the capabilities of Philadelphia’s robotics teams.

Grant Recipients of 2017-2018

The Philadelphia Robotics Coalition is excited to announce the teams receiving grants for 2017-2018. These grants are given to teams serving Philadelphia high school students as part of our mission to bring robotics programming every public high school in Philadelphia. We look forward to working with these teams throughout the year:

  • Academy At Palumbo
  • Edison High School
  • Frankford High School
  • Franklin Learning Center
  • Hill-Freedman World Academy
  • Lincoln High School
  • Northeast High School
  • Parkway Center City High School
  • Philadelphia High School for Girls
  • Project HOME After School Program
  • Swenson Arts & Technology High School
  • The Workshop School


Apply for an FTC Team Grant (2017/2018)

We are seeking applicant teams to receive the Coalition FTC Grant to compete during the 2017–2018 FTC season. Grant amounts range from $1000–$3000. Some grant funds are distributed in the form of EC pay for School District of Philadelphia teacher coaches.

If you are a Philadelphia high school teacher or principal interested in starting an FTC team at your school, or securing additional funding for your existing team, apply HERE!