A high school robotics team from York has clinched a spot in world competition.

TechFire was one of three teams that beat out 48 others in regional competition in Washington, D.C., last weekend. As a regional winner, the team qualifies for the 2014 FIRST World Championships at the end of April in St. Louis.

"It couldn't have gone any better," said Vicki Rispoli, one of the team's adult mentors.

During competition, robots work in teams to pick up, catch and throw large exercise balls. TechFire — composed of about 30 members from 10 different school districts in York and Adams counties — created its robot, "DJ Fireball," with the help of several local sponsors.

Winners: The team earned the Creativity Award for its bot, which got the judges' attention because of its unique design.

Its innovative ball-catcher works somewhat like a Venus flytrap, using sensors to detect the ball, as well as pneumatics to open and close its jaws, Rispoli said.

Last weekend marked the first time the team attended regionals in D.C., so students got to make new friends and play with new teams, she said.

"To win was amazing," Rispoli said. "It was a fun time."

The team will move on to the Mid-Atlantic Robotics Region Championship from April 10 to 12, but the results don't matter much, since TechFire already qualified for world competition.

"It's going to be nice to go and just do our best," she said.


In the meantime, the team is ready for championships, Rispoli said. After making it to worlds last year, TechFire was eliminated in the quarter-finals.

She's hoping the team powers on to finals this year.

"We're just so excited," Rispoli said.

— Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.