SUNY Morrisville’s STEP Robotics Team competes in statewide event

Published date
11 a.m.

There were more than 100 students and plenty of robots!

SUNY Morrisville’s Science and Technology Entry (STEP) Robotics Team was among 11 schools that put their robots to the test during a Statewide Robotics Competition held May 31 at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York.

The team, comprised of Big Picture (LaFayette Central School District) sophomores Jonathon Harris and Hampton Papworth, both of LaFayette; Jeffrey Comins, of Jamesville; freshman Oliver Newell, of LaFayette; and staff advisor Lenny Oppedisano, went two wins, two losses and one tie in qualifying rounds, landing them a spot in the quarter finals of the elimination tournament. They fell to the Adelphi STEP Robotics Team in a narrow 14-12 loss in the first elimination round.

Although they didn’t take home a trophy, they brought home valuable experience to broaden their education.

“Our team was able to create and adapt strategies as the day went on, modify the robot — including adding parts to the jaws and swapping out a motor and keeping their cool under pressure,” Oppedisano said.  “We won some rounds and lost some rounds, but as a first-year team, we boasted a large number of points and were proud of a robot that was durable and functioned as planned.”

“While there was a lot to be said for how the robot performed and the job the students did during each competition, I was particularly impressed with the work the students did between matches,” said Jamie Miller, Director of SUNY Morrisville’s STEP & CSTEP Programs.

“They evaluated their performance and made necessary adjustments to the robot making it more effective in competition. They worked through conflict and as a group made strategic changes. I don’t have enough good things to say about the work the young men put in and the leadership that was provided by Oppedisano,” he added.

SUNY Morrisville’s STEP Robotics Team worked diligently for months outside of classes designing and engineering — then redesigning and reengineering their robot until it was ready for competition.

Their design — simplistic, agile and speedy — was deemed “the fastest and most powerful robot in the competition” by host and tournament emcee, Ed Tes.

“Building the frame within the size limitations, mounting the motors, brain and wheels, designing and mounting a claw mechanism and learning how to control the robot was a constant learning experience,” Oppedisano said.

The event left a lasting impression on the team.

“Building the robot was fun and competing was a true experience in terms of how to maneuver the robot in the space provided,” Newell said.

“We had a lot of fun and we learned a lot in the process,” Papworth said. “We made a lot of last-minute adjustments and modifications to the robot itself. Overall it was a great experience.”

“As we left the competition, students discussed their intentions to win the whole thing next year,” Oppedisano said. “That is the type of enthusiasm we hope for at the end of a learning experience like this.”  

SUNY Morrisville works with Big Picture throughout the year supporting projects from culinary, to student-built computers, to greenhouse projects and robotics.

SUNY Morrisville STEP will be making investments throughout the summer to provide Big Picture and other partnering schools with the necessary equipment to expand the robotics program and continue competing heading into the 2024-25 academic year, according to Miller.  

About STEP
The program prepares and inspires students from underrepresented backgrounds who are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). SUNY Morrisville STEP partners with Big Picture and districts across Chenango County to provide experiential and exploratory opportunities in a wide range of STEM programs for students in grades 7-12.