Ghost Robotics is in control on their way to the State Championship


Steve Wojcik

Ghost Robotics poses after winning the Qualifiers competition.

James Farley, Co-Managing Editor

Ghost Robotics has officially qualified for the Massachusetts State Championship at Andover High School on Saturday, Mar. 4 after winning the Qualifiers competition on Saturday, Jan. 7 at Lexington High School. Led by senior captain Nakul Joshi, and advisors Steve Wojcik and Jeff Warren, Ghost Robotics teamed up with FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Team 8644 ‘Brainstormers’ from Lexington at Qualifiers, forming a dominant alliance that helped them extend their season and advance to the next round.

The road to the State Championship is a long one, starting back in September for Ghost Robotics. In September, FTC teams around the world received word on what the season’s “challenge” would entail, which combines “the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology” according to With this information, the team proceeded to construct a robot that both follows the rules, and gives them the best chance at winning the challenge. 

In early December, Ghost Robotics used a robot prototype to compete in unofficial scrimmages where they learned what types of robots other teams had created, and tested their own prototype. A few weeks later, after making modifications to their robot, Qualifiers took place, which Ghost Robotics won, helping them move on to the State Championship. Wojcik was pleased with his team’s performance at Qualifiers, and recognizes adjustments that they have to make in order to be prepared for the State Championship.

“Leading up to the State Championship, we will keep looking for ways to improve [our robot],” Wojcik said. “We have some ideas we are implementing and, although we have secured a spot at States, we plan to enter the robot in another qualifier to test the new design.”

While the actual composition and competing with the robot are integral pieces of what judges look at when deciding who moves on to states, there are other key facets as well. Each team must also make a positive impact on the community through service, and provide judges with a detailed “Engineering Notebook” that documents their ideas and progress throughout the season. Ghost Robotics succeeded in both of these categories, enabling them to move on to states.

“While this [competition] is going on, judges are visiting teams, asking questions about aspects of their robot and outreach activities promoting FIRST and STEM in the community, and behind the scenes, teams are making presentations to judges,” Wojcik said. “At the end of the day, awards are given to teams making a notable impact in each of these areas, and only a handful will advance to States.”

At the competition, Ghost Robotics not only came out victorious, but also won the Motivate Award in the process. This award is given to teams that showcase strong professionalism and highlight the message of FIRST through their outreach. The team carried out this outreach in a variety of different ways.

“We demonstrate the robot and talk about engineering at elementary and middle schools, as well as summer camps.  We also hold classes to encourage young students interested in STEM,” Wojcik said. “We want to get the message out that robotics is a very fun and accessible hobby that anyone can have.”

Ghost Robotics has consistently made it to the State Championship in recent years, and the trend continues this year. Wojcik believes that this is due to the hard work and dedication that each individual member of the team has contributed.

“It is assuring to see the team putting in so many hours and making consistent progress. This season we changed the way we do a lot of things, such as playing around with new algorithms and techniques on the programming side,” Wojcik said. “Our work has come together [to create] a very competitive robot.”

A major factor for the team’s success is a new Raise3D Pro3 Plus printer that the team purchased with a generous grant from the Westford Education Foundation. The new 3D printer allows the team to print custom-designed parts using SolidWorks CAD software, and then use them on the robot. 

“The 3D printer has been a game changer. Using them [the printed parts] on the robot saves time and money over buying generic off-the-shelf parts like other teams,” Wojcik said. “We are then able to use that time and money to improve other aspects of the robot.”

Making it to the State Tournament is a significant accomplishment for the team. 24 teams from across Massachusetts will attend the full-day competition, and only two teams will move onto the World Tournament, which will take place in Houston, Texas.

“Our goal at States is to just go out there, have fun, do our best, and be with others [other teams] doing the same. We hope to win the State Championship like last year, and hopefully make it to Worlds for the first time,” Joshi said. “For seniors like myself, with this being our last year on the team, we are hoping to make the best robot that we can possibly put out there.”

A major reason for the team’s success is the commitment from the advisors, Warren and Wojcik.

“Our advisors are a great help throughout the whole process. Mr. Warren is very well-versed in mechanical engineering and Computer Aided Design, and Mr. Wojcik has a background in electronics, networking and business,” Joshi said. “It is thanks to the work of our advisors that we are able to do everything that we do and are becoming more of a presence within FIRST.”  

With the State Tournament approaching in March and an already successful season under the team’s belt, Joshi has seen how much the team has grown throughout the year.

“Our performance has exceeded my expectations, and I am very proud of all the progress we’ve made,” Joshi said. “I have found that robotics is always a learning experience. No matter how much you know about hardware or software, there is always more to learn and explore.”