Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

Four robotics teams from Macon County will advance to State after competing over the weekend in Cherokee at the SMART (Smoky Mountain Area Robotics Teams) league Robotics competition.

Saturday’s tournament included 48 teams from across the region, 12 of which were from Macon County. Teachers and mentors volunteered their time for after school meetings and the tournament to ensure the children were prepared to compete.

Four Macon County teams will be heading to the state competition on Jan. 14 in Greensboro at A&T University. According to Macon County Schools STEM Coordinator Jennifer Love, Macon County hopes to partner with the other teams in the region that will be heading to state to travel together as a Western North Carolina contingent.

Teams qualifying for state included Team TechMedics from Macon Early College, which was coached by  Eric Jackson and comprised of 10 students; Team Midnight from Macon Middle School coached by Scott Burns and comprised of five students; Team Avengers from Macon Middle School coached by Annie Hornsby and comprised of eight students; and Team Robothawks from Nantahala coached by Shannon West and comprised of five students. Team Cygles from Mountain View Intermediate was selected as a tournament alternate for Macon County.

Other awards Macon County brought home included Team Robohawks from Nantahala who won the Inspiration award, Team Midnight from Macon Middle won the Core Values award and Aaliyah Patel won the Outstanding Young Adult Volunteer award. Patel was on a team last year and volunteered to help at the tournament this year.

The SMART league was sponsored by Drake Software and the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.

Anyone interested in being a volunteer or mentor next year (starting late spring) may contact Jennifer Love at for more information. Parents should also look for information about joining next season’s teams in late spring and expect a summer camp focused on programming.