Kinetic Knights take regional competition with robot


By Barb McKay

The Kincardine Kinetic Knights Team 781 won gold in the recent Buckeye Regional championship in Cleveland, Ohio.

The robotics team competed with its robot Duncan in the competition from May 17-19. The team’s administrative captain Lana Splettstoesser said the Knights learned how to improve Duncan from a previous regional experience in Toronto earlier in the month and were ready for the challenge when they travelled to Ohio. The robot’s drive team consisted of coach Chris Pierce, programmer Jed Gonzales, driver Derek Eberl and human player Brendan Arciszewski. Team 781 is made up of 42 students.

In an initial challenge, the team placed 10th out of 60 teams and formed an alliance with the only other Canadian team, from Hamilton, and a team from Ohio. The three teams went on to a tiebreaking match and won the championship by just one point. Team 781 now qualifies to go on to the World Championships for the sixth consecutive year.

“All of the students, parents, and mentors were on the edges of their seats in anticipation. When we won everyone jumped up and down, hugged each other, and cried tears of happiness,” Splettstoesser said. “We immediately started singing the Canadian national anthem.”

She said Team 781’s alliance was beneficial to the team’s success.

“Our strong alliance with the only other Canadian team there, Makeshift Robotics, certainly helped us win. While we broke barriers, scored some low goals, and distracted Team 27 Rush, Makeshift's robot was able to decrease the tower strength with ease. Our third alliance partner, Viking Robotics blocked shots on the other side of the field and aided in breaking barriers.” 

But the Kinetic Knights’ own robot was a force to be reckoned with.

“Our robot itself was unique in that it has an easy to take apart and fix drive train as well as a high goal shooting system that shoots balls over the robot's body (backwards),” Splettstoesser said.

Team 781 will travel to St. Louis, Missouri at the end of April to compete against thousands of teams from around the world.

“In preparation for the championships, we will be building a scaler mechanism to attach to the robot, improve our shooting accuracy, and continue to practice driving the robot,” Splettstoesser said.

She noted that the team will be relying heavily on fundraising and sponsorships to cover the $30,000 cost of the trip. Event information will be posted on Team 781’s Facebook page. Donations can also be made to the team through its website at