Last month, more than 1,000 high school students and their robots competed in the ultimate Sport for the Mind™ at the inaugural New York Tech Valley FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition that was hosted by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute March 13-15.
Students worked with professional engineering mentors to design a robot, within a six-week timeframe, that solves a problem using a standard kit of parts and set of rules (but no instructions).
This year’s FIRST Robotics Competition game was titled AERIAL ASSIST, and is played by two alliances each comprised of three teams. Alliances compete by trying to score as many balls in goals in a timed match. Additional points are earned by robots working together to score goals, such as by throwing balls over a truss suspended above the floor.
Local FRC teams including The Rocketeers from Shenendehowa High School of Clifton Park, N.Y.; Division By Zero from Clarkson University, Massena High School, and Salmon River High School of Potsdam, N.Y., and Team SPARX from Webster High School of Webster, N.Y., won by a score of 130 to 93 in the final round of competition.
The New York Tech Valley FIRST Robotics Competition hosted 38 teams of high school students from the Capital Region, as well as other teams from New York state, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Indiana, and two international teams from Turkey and Canada, for the ultimate display of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in action.
In addition to competing on the arena floor, teams competed for honors and recognition that reward design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship, and high-impact partnerships among schools, businesses, and communities.
Winners for design excellence, sportsmanship, teamwork, and more will advance to the FIRST Championship taking place in St. Louis, Mo.,April 23-26, 2014.
The 2014 New York Tech Valley FIRST Robotics Competition award recipients are:
Creativity Award: Team SPARX, FRC1126, from Webster High School of Webster, NY
Imagery Award: Team RoboKronos, FRC4203, from Oneonta High School of Oneonta, NY
Spirit Award: Team 0xBE4, FRC3044, from Ballston Spa High School of Ballston Spa, NY
Rookie Award: Team Man O’War Robotics, FRC5236, from Cambridge Central High School of Cambridge, NY
Chairman's Award: Team G.R.R., FRC 340, from Churchville-Chili High School, Churchville, NY
Engineering Inspiration: Team Rolling Thunder, FRC 1511, from Penfield High School, Penfield, NY
Excellence in Engineering: Team T-Rx, FRC145 from Norwich High School, Sherburne-Earlville High School and Unadilla Valley High School of Norwich, NY
Gracious Professionalism: Team Arctic Warriors, FRC174, from Liverpool High School of Liverpool, NY
In addition, two volunteers were also recognized by their efforts. Paul Schoch, associate professor in the Rensselaer Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering Department and director of the university’s Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education (CIPCE) and professional mentor of The Falcons, FRC1493, from Albany High School of Albany, N.Y., received the 2014 Woodie Flowers Award. Mary Burke, manager of special projects at New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) and co-chair of the event, received the Volunteer of the Year award.
FIRST Robotics Competition sponsors and volunteers come from some of the most highly regarded organizations that share a concern for providing STEM opportunities for Tech Valley’s future workforce, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is the regional lead sponsor, General Electric, National Grid, Rensselaer, Time Warner Cable, Integrated Liner Technology, GlobalFoundries, Hilton Garden Inn, and Recovery Sports Grill. Sponsors provide resources including time and talent from professional mentors, services, equipment, financial contributions, and volunteers.
The New York Tech Valley Regional is one of four FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) regional competitions in New York state and one of nearly 100 FRC events taking place around the world during the month of March and April.
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $19 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for Grades 7-12; FIRST LEGO® League (FLL® ) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org. To learn more about FIRST in New York Tech Valley, visit www.techvalleyfirst.org.