About Us

Dedication, teamwork, and spirit.
We’re not just a team, but a family.

The RoboLancers are an award-winning FIRST Robotics team based at Central High School in Philadelphia. Established in 1999, the team has grown from a handful of students whose sole purpose was to build robots, into the school’s largest student group whose main goal is to inspire students across Philadelphia to pursue careers in science and technology.

With more than 100 members, the RoboLancers are composed of three distinct teams that participate in both the FRC and FTC robotics competitions. Our FRC team (321) has six weeks to design and build a 120-pound robot to perform tasks against a field of competitors. The games are played between alliances of three robots each on a basketball court-sized field. The alliances change frequently, so an ally in one match could be an opponent in the next.

First-year RoboLancers compete on FTC teams Crimson (6676) and Gold (5320) and have two months to build a robot that can fit into a smaller 18-inch sizing cube. Through their participation in these competitions, students learn important engineering and design skills. They also prepare themselves for college and careers in science and technology.

Over the past four years, the RoboLancers have qualified three times to compete in the FIRST World Championship, and have won 4 Engineering Inspiration Awards and 6 Chairman’s Awards, the highest honor in FIRST robotics. As a student-run organization, the RoboLancers also learn important leadership, management and financial skills as they oversee a large and complex organization, with a budget of nearly $80,000 in the 2018-19 school year.

In addition to our success in competitions, we focus on providing enriching STEM educational opportunities in Philadelphia through a comprehensive outreach program. In a challenging urban context, the RoboLancers have stepped in to support the city’s network of robotics teams by providing access to practice and build space, funding, and mentor ship. Each year, we host the FTC Philadelphia Championship and the Philadelphia Qualifying Tournament of the First Lego League (FLL) for elementary and middle schoolers. We are planning a new STEM Innovation Lab in our building to provide additional practice and workshop space for city teams.

Our largest outreach event is the annual Philadelphia Robotics Expo (PRX), which we host with the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Lab at the Singh Nanotechnology Center. Over the past five years, PRX has reached more than 2,000 attendees from the Philadelphia area, including students, parents, and educators. PRX is an all-day event where students can attend workshops run by the RoboLancers; interact with FIRST teams and corporate exhibitors, and view robot demonstrations from Penn and other Philadelphia Schools. Through PRX, we introduce the students of Philadelphia to robotics and inspire all ages to engage in STEM education. (The Philadelphia Robotics Coalition plays a big role in getting STEM education into the schools of Philadelphia as well. (To learn more, click here: http://roboticscoalition.org/ )

Our goal is not only to build a competitive robot, but to improve the city around us. We use our experience and resources to increase the accessibility of robotics to Philadelphia. In a city where only 13 percent of graduating students go on to receive four-year degrees in science or engineering, we take pride in knowing that we are increasing that number — one student at a time.