RIPLEY, W.Va. — For the second time in as many years, the Ripley High School robotics team is participating in the Robotics World Championship this weekend at the Kentucky Exposition Center.
In early March, the Vikings were the excellence award winners and tournament champions at a 38-team statewide event held at Fairmont State.
That gave Ripley its bid to the World Championship, which will run from Thursday through Saturday.
“They are excited,” Ripley coach Melissa Lough said. “We were there last year as well and they had a good time. It’s a great educational experience.”
Lough, a math teacher at Ripley, believes participating in the prestigious event will create lifelong memories for members of the team.
“You have 40 countries represented and about 580 teams there this weekend, so there will be a language barrier for one if you’re paired with a team from a different country,” Lough said. “It’s also a great learning experience, because they can see how they can improve from how other people build and program their robot. It’s a great learning experience because a lot of collaboration goes on.”
Ripley’s robotics team, which is in its second year of existence, consists of an ‘A’ team with four members as well as a ‘B’ team with four members. The ‘A’ team will participate at the World Championship, while the ‘B’ team made the trip “for support and help purposes,” according to Lough.
“They do work together, but they compete separately,” she said.
Ripley’s ‘A’ team consists of a trio of seniors — Michael Lough, Chris DeFrank and Josh Conrad — as well as junior Matt Bowlby.
With that group having experienced last year’s world event, coach Lough believes it should only prove beneficial this weekend.
“They did well here last year,” she said. “They separate the schools into five divisions and we were 37th out of 98 in our division a year ago, so I was pleased.”
As for the competition itself, teams are given a kit to build and program a robot that they must drive to compete.
“The challenge or game changes every year,” coach Lough said.
Wayne High School was Ripley’s alliance partner at the statewide event, and will also be at the World Championship.