A student team of engineers who designed a Frisbee-flinging robot made it to the quarterfinals of a national competition before being eliminated.

TechFire 225 was competing in St. Louis at FIRST, the short form of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Student teams design and build a robot to perform a task; this year, it was throwing Frisbees into a target area.

Central, Dallastown, Eastern, Southern, South Eastern and Hempfield school districts and York Country Day, Penn Manor and home schools are all represented on the York TechFire 225's team of about 18 students.

TechFire 225 made it through the qualifying rounds at nationals in late April before falling in the quarterfinals. It was the team's first time at that level.

"That's a huge deal for that competition," said parent Vicki Rispoli, who helped as a team coordinator.

Rispoli said students already met Tuesday night to plan for next season's events, hoping they can take the momentum from this year and do even better in 2014. Off-season events are coming up soon, too, she said.

The team is also hoping the trip to nationals helps with recruitment the team does this after school and must raise funds on its own.

Path to nationals: TechFire 225 won a district event earlier in March at Springfield Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, and competed in Allentown's regional event in mid-April.

The national event?

"It was like the Super Bowl for three days," Rispoli said with a laugh.


Teams from Canada and Texas won top honors at nationals.

Students participating in York TechFire 225's robotics team include: Jacob Bryan, Elijah Leiphart, Katie Kline, Collin Enders, Owen Billet, Wren Hensgen, Gideon Miles, Andrew Lobos, Mitch Skiles, Tom Sowers, Gracie Putnam, Bethany Rispoli, Zachary Rispoli, Ryan Pizzirusso, Justin Quackenbush, Ben Thomas, Richard Skinner and Sam Albright. Matt Kline is the adviser.

To learn more about TechFire and student robotics, visit www.techfire225.com.

-- Reach Andrew Shaw at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com