The Eastbots team poses for a photo after the Orange County district robotics competition on Sunday, March 3. The Eastbots had the second most points of all the competing teams. (Photo via Danny Levenson)

The Eastbots, a local robotics team based out of East Chapel Hill High School, was one of four teams to be awarded a “District Championship Winner” title at a state competition in Greenville, North Carolina. The Eastbots scored the second most points overall and qualified to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition World Championship this week in Houston, Texas.

The team also competed at the Orange County robotics competition early last month, where they finished as one of the top-scoring teams along with local Carrboro and Chapel Hill High School.

FIRST is a global robotics nonprofit that gets its acronym from “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” The group hosts many local and national events throughout the year where, under strict rules and with limited time and resources, teams of high school students are challenged to design robots that can compete in elaborate gameplay. Each team has an industrial-size robot programmed to follow instructions in real-time and autonomously. The robots throw discs into targets and climb chains, all while racing against the clock. FIRST competitions also prioritize collaboration and every event requires teams from different schools to work together in “alliances.” 

After the weekend win, the Eastbots are ranked first in North Carolina and 53rd worldwide out of 3,474 teams. It is the Eastbots’ first time winning the district championship since they first got their start in 2012. The Eastbots were originally founded by a teacher and five students in East Chapel Hill High School’s woodshop, but have grown in size and skill over the years.

The Carrborobotics team poses for a photo after the Orange County robotics competition on Sunday, March 3. The Carrborobotics team was a district event winner and placed first in the competition. (Photo via Danny Levenson)

Carrboro High School’s robotics team, the Carrborobotics also qualified for this week’s global competition in Texas. Their team is currently ranked fourth out of 75 teams in North Carolina. In 2023, after the pandemic, the team was left with only two high school seniors who had robotics experience. Now, the team has a few more experienced members but is mostly made up of students who joined for the first time this year. According to Carrborobotics team captain Aidan Martzloff, the team helps students define their passions, whether they be in marketing and business, mechanical engineering or computer science.

The 2024 Carrborobotics robot is named “Tom Janks” and includes a swerve drivebase, which allows it to travel at more than 15 feet per second in any direction. The design also has a set of rollers and wheels that can shoot discs more than 25 feet across the playing field.

As both teams prepare for the global championship in Texas, they are asking community members for support. Donations will help with travel, robot repairs and maintenance and other costs associated with competing.

The VEX Robotics World Championship for high school competitors will be held in Houston, T.X. from April 25 through April 27.


Featured photo courtesy of Danny Levenson does not charge subscription fees, and you can directly support our efforts in local journalism here. Want more of what you see on Chapelboro? Let us bring free local news and community information to you by signing up for our newsletter.