MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Mountaineer Area Robotics (MARS) held “WV Robotics Extreme” (WV ROX) over the course of Aug. 5 and 6 at the WVU student recreation center.

The competition lasted 26 hours and 14 minutes, in which it is the world’s only robotics endurance event. The high school teams and coaches stayed awake the entire time to compete in different varieties of matches. An example of a few are mentors being the robot drives, silent matches, and shooting balls for the other team.

They did have accommodations for those who did need to get rest, There was a “quiet area” where participants and families had air mattresses, cots, sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets. Beside this room, there was also a “dining hall” where they could get food at any time.

In 2014, WV ROX held its first endurance competition, and they hold it bi-annually. This is the first competition that they have been able to have since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earl Scime created the MARS team, which is celebrating its 15 year anniversary of being established. He also made the event back in 2014, and knowing the mentors from different states has made it a bit easier to hold the bi-annual event. After 4 years, he is happy to have the endurance competition back. While he feels the idea was a bit crazy, their team came up with the idea while working on the robot around two in the morning, since the mentors have other jobs during the week. Their team number is “2614, ” and one of the members mentioned doing a competition where they stay up all night.

Leading up to the event, Scime continues to feel that it is a crazy idea, but once the event is almost over, he realized that it was not as bad as he thought it would be.

Twenty-four high school teams from across the country and the state came out to participate. The teams that came out to participate are:

  • 48 – Team E.L.I.T.E. – Warren, OH 
  • 117 – Steel Dragons – Pittsburgh, PA 
  • 325 – Respawn Robotics 
  • 346 – RoboHawks – Chesterfield, VA 
  • 456 – Siege Robotics – Vicksburg, MS 
  • 686 – Bovine Intervention – Thurmont, MD 
  • 1732 – Hilltopper Robotics – Milwaukee, WI 
  • 2051 – The Beattie Bulldogs – Allison Park, PA 
  • 2363 – Triple Helix – Newport News, VA 
  • 2614 – MARS – Mountaineer Area RoboticS – Morgantown, WV 
  • 2656 – Quasics – Monroeville, PA 
  • 3260 – SHARP – Pittsburgh, PA 
  • 3492 – Putnam Area Robotics Team (P.A.R.T.s) – Winfield, WV 
  • 3504 – Girls of Steel – Pittsburgh, PA 
  • 3538 – RoboJackets – Auburn Hills, MI 
  • 3940 – CyberTooth – Kokomo, IN 
  • 4265 – Secret City Wildbots – Knoxville, TN 
  • 4467 – Titanium Titans – Canonsburg, PA 
  • 4991 – Horsepower-ed by NASA, Argo AI and Williams – Bridgeville, PA 
  • 5740 – Trojanators – Cranberry Township, PA 
  • 5811 – BONDS – Dayton, OH 
  • 6802 – Mean Caimans – Cedar Bluff, VA 
  • 7515 – Dark Side Robotics – Parkersburg, WV 
  • 9999 – FRC Boot Camp 

On the final day, the competition held its semi-final and final matches. They also handed out student scholarships and awards to teams, as well as mentors.

Ashley Marroquin Castillo, a senior in charge of the team’s outreach and public relations, expressed that this competition is important to have for students involved in robotics. She said, “I think it’s very important to have competitions like this because it gets everybody hyped up for what the season could be and, um, you really get to focus more on bonding with your team over the off season event, and it’s like, not like a regular competition. It’s like, it’s different, like, you don’t stay up for 26 hours at a regular competition, so it makes things more fun, you’re a little more exhausted but.. It’s different.”

This endurance competition will be taking place again in 2024, allowing students, coaches and families to get some well needed rest after staying up for over 26 hours.

If your school is interested in starting up a robotics team, you can contact Ryan Utzman, Robotics Outreach Specialist at Fairmont State University and NASA IV&V Educator Resource Center, by clicking here. He supports over a dozen of robotics teams in grades Kindergarten through College level.