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Jun 09, 2017

NJ Robotics Programs Support Each Other After Equipment Stolen

Earlier this spring, Ranney School’s Robotics Program students competed in the 2017 VEX World Robotics Competition in Louisville, Kentucky. Despite their amazing finish, including making it to the high school division semifinals and having two fifth-grade qualifier, the students were disappointed to find that all of their most valuable equipment was stolen from a transport trailer.

Fellow New Jersey Robotics team Robot Revolution—a Summit-based afterschool program that offers robotics classes and camps for all ages—had graciously offered to drive Ranney’s equipment, along with equipment from neighboring Millburn High School, to and from Kentucky for the world tournament. Sadly, their trailer was stolen on the evening of April 22, before many of the elementary and middle school age students on Robot Revolution’s teams were able to compete. Robot Revolution lost nine robots (eight VEX IQ and one VRC middle school robot) in all, a value of nearly $20,000.  Millburn High lost one robot and Ranney’s teams lost three robots, as well as valuable parts, totaling around $12,000. 

“We were beyond sad to lose our world-ranked robots, and most of our best tools and parts,” said Ranney Robotics Advisor Chiara Shah. “It was heart-breaking to see such loss after these kids had put in so much time and effort.” 

Students typically spend months building, testing, and tweaking their robots before a major competition like VEX Worlds. Members of Robot Revolution were fortunate to have new kits flown in from Texas – same day – by the VEX Corporation, but they had to work all day and overnight to try to recreate their robots in order to compete.  Mrs. Shah recalls that the judges were so impressed by the students’ fast work and upbeat attitude, that four Robot Revolution teams each won a Judges’ Award during the championship.  “Ranney VEX IQ teams have long enjoyed competing with Robot Revolutions’ teams and we were thrilled to see their hard work acknowledged.” 

Insurance has covered approximately 25% to 50% of the losses incurred by the programs since the theft. Ranney’s robotics students were more than uplifted to hear that a member from Robot Revolution set up a GoFundMe effort (https://www.gofundme.com/replace-stolen-high-school-robots) to raise money to compensate for the stolen equipment. The fund raised just over $8,200 to help replace Ranney’s and Millburn High’s robots and parts.

“They felt responsible since it was their trailer that the parts were being transported in,” explained Shah. “But truly, we are a very tight-knit community in New Jersey robotics,” explained Shah. “Everyone at one time or another has supported each other, on and off the robotic fields.”

With the funds raised, Robot Revolution worked with VEX to obtain a discount to purchase the replacement equipment for Ranney and Millburn. “We are thankful for the support received from our fellow tech builders and programmers,” said Shah. “As we rebuild our inventories over the summer, we look forward to the upcoming season in New Jersey Robotics!