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Penn Robotics earns berth to World Competition

Penn robotics team

Penn High School’s Robotics Team 135 earned the coveted Chairman’s Award at the FIRST State Championship, and qualified for the FIRST Robotics World Competition in St. Louis on April 26-29.


Penn’s FIRST Robotics team of 36 students traveled to the FIRST State Championship in Huntington, Indiana,  to compete against the top 32 teams in Indiana on April 7-9. These 32 teams competed in 64 qualifying matches. Penn Robotics Team 135 achieved its goal of finishing as the first seeded team after the qualifying matches.


The team also came home with the most prestigious award in FIRST Robotics, the Chairman's award. This award recognizes a team for being a model for other teams to emulate. The Chairman's award celebrates community outreach, inspiring engineering, helping other teams grow, and acting with gracious professionalism. It is earned over an extended period of time and is strived for by all teams throughout the world.


Both the robot’s competition performance and winning the Chairman’s award earned Penn Robotics a spot at the FIRST Robotics World Competition in St. Louis from April 26-29.


Each student on the team plays multiple roles. The team is made up of both juniors and seniors who design, build and program a robot, volunteer in the community, as well as raise all funds needed to compete from the regional level all of the way to the World Championships.


The 2017 Penn Robotics team is made up of 36 students: Olivia Adam, Conrad Adams, Kelsey Anderson, Shino Antony, Sam Battalio, Thomas Blankenship, Maguire Burton, Drason Chow, Emma Clark, Kayla Cole, Daniel Datuel, Chris Dell, Adam Dewey, Italia Fields, Austin Finnessy, Kenny Ham, Cole Harding, Lizzie Heisler, Mia Heisler, Kaitlin Kelsey, Chase Kidder, Jonathan Laatz, David Li, Eric McDonald, Alyssa McNarney, Aidan Palonis, Nathan Petrie, Mackenzie Richards, Frank Salek, Alex Simmons, Parker Smithberger, Conner Swift, Jack Wheet, Blake Witchie, David Wojciechowski, and Brandon Ziegert.


Taking on their 20th year, Penn Robotics is led by Jim Langfeldt, Evan White, and Josiah Parker -- the coordinators of this top-caliber FIRST Robotics team.


Students also work with professional mentors who help guide them along the engineering, business, and design process, while also helping them to establish best practices, and gain a practical understanding of machines. The Penn Robotics mentors include: Dave Adam, Allison Adams, Holly Austin, Joe Bishop, Grant Carlile, Andy Edelbrock, Tom Evans, Nancy Heisler, Tom Leathers, Troy Stabelfeldt, Bob Stevenson, Robin Varmette, Andrew Whiteman, Bill Whiteman, and Don Zmudzinski.


To help the team by giving your time to help with events to coordinate, to help students connect with the community, help plan with community partners, or to donate a trailer for traveling, donate a full drill index, or even donate some fasteners for the robot, contact the team at or at (574) 254-2881.


About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self- confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $20 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to