Posted on April 25, 2023
Categories: News from SDP

Central High School’s Robotics Team, RoboLancers, won the 2023 FIRST® Impact Award at the FIRST® Championship in Houston, earning the team a permanent place in the FIRST® Hall of Fame. The Impact Award recognizes the RoboLancers’ work to inspire and prepare the next generation of STEM leaders in Philadelphia through their outstanding and sustained efforts to grow access and equity in STEM programs for Philadelphia public school students.

The RoboLancers, Central’s 168-student robotics team, work to spread STEM opportunities to Philadelphia public school students, principally through the nonprofit Philadelphia Robotics Coalition, which was founded by the RoboLancers in 2016 and supports143 robotics teams for K-12 students across the city this school year.

The FIRST® Impact Award is the most prestigious award at FIRST®, honoring the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST®. It was created to keep the central focus of FIRST® Robotics Competition on the ultimate goal of transforming our culture to elevate science and technology, and to encourage more of today’s youth to become science and technology leaders.

The RoboLancers were selected as the 2023 Championship FIRST® Impact Award winner from the pool of 84 Regional FIRST® Impact Award winners. The RoboLancers are now one of 34 teams from around the world who have achieved this honor in a competition dating back to 1992.

“It’s hard to explain the magnitude of this accomplishment to folks outside of FIRST®. The scale and scope of the RoboLancers’ impact has made such a positive difference for thousands of students over the last decade. Coach Johnson deserves an enormous amount of credit for empowering his students to build this success. It’s an incredible, incredible feat,” said Daniel Miller-Uueda, STEAM Curriculum Specialist at the School District of Philadelphia and former coach of the RoboLancers.

“I started our team’s outreach program 12 years ago as a student team member. Since then, our impact has expanded considerably and we are grateful for the recognition that has come as a result of our years of hard work and all of the support we’ve received to achieve such an honor,” said Meghan Ho, a member of Central High School’s 271st class and now a Product Manager at Quartile. Ho  has continued to mentor the team since graduation.

“When students float big ideas, I feel my job as a coach is to say ‘yes’ and help them make it happen. We don’t just talk about it; we do it. That’s how we end up hosting so many robotics events and supporting so many teams, founding a nonprofit and winning program delivery contracts with the District and others. We charge forward with these ideas and see how far we can take them.” said Michael Johnson, head coach of the RoboLancers since 2014, and teacher at Central High School.

As a Hall of Fame team, the RoboLancers are prequalified to compete at the FIRST Championship for the next 10 years, and their work and impact in our city will only grow.