Hundreds of tech-savvy high school students from throughout Missouri and western Illinois will put their robotic creations to the test on Saturday, Feb. 23, during the FIRST Tech Challenge, a regional robotics championship for high school students hosted by Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T).
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Above: video from the 2011 competition at Missouri S&T (watch on YouTube)
The Missouri FIRST Tech Challenge championship will be held in the Student Recreation Center on the Missouri S&T campus. The center adjoins the Gale Bullman Multi-Purpose Building at 10th Street and Bishop Avenue (U.S. Highway 63).
The FIRST Tech Challenge is a nationwide robotics competition involving teams of up to 10 students between the ages of 14-18 in grades 9-12. Each team designs, builds and programs robots for a tournament-style competition.
Thirty-six teams from throughout Missouri are expected to take part in the Missouri S&T event.
The competition is sponsored by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders” through participation in various robotics programs.
Participants in this year’s competition – titled “Ring it up” – will use their robots to place plastic rings onto pegs on a rack in the center of a 12-foot diamond-shaped field. The teams will be challenged to complete tasks during autonomous and driver-controlled periods, and can find special “weighted” rings to earn bonus points.
Winners of the Missouri event will compete in the World Championship, to be held April 24-27 at the Edward Jones Dome/America’s Center in St. Louis. St. Louis was selected as the host city for that event from 2011 to 2013, just as Missouri S&T was chosen to host the statewide championship for the same period.
“The citizens of Missouri consistently demonstrate that they truly understand the mission of FIRST and share our viewpoint on the importance of helping young people reap the rewards and excitement of an education and a career in science and technology,” says Dean Kamen, CEO of DEKA and founder of FIRST. “We are thrilled that Missouri S&T, known throughout the state for innovative engineering programs that, like FIRST, go beyond books and lectures to encourage solutions for real-world challenges, is hosting the FIRST Tech Challenge state championship.”
“Missouri S&T is proud of our longtime association with FIRST, and many of our current students participated in these robotics competitions when they were in high school,” says Dr. Cheryl B. Schrader, Missouri S&T chancellor. “Our mission of preparing students to solve society’s technological challenges is in perfect alignment with FIRST. We look forward to hosting the FIRST Tech Challenge.”
Nearly 100 members of Missouri S&T’s freshman class participated in FIRST robotics programs.
In addition to FTC, FIRST also sponsors the FIRST Robotics Competition for high school students, the FIRST LEGO League events for students in grades 4-8 and the Jr. FIRST LEGO League for students from kindergarten to the third grade.
For more information about FIRST and the FIRST Tech Challenge — or to volunteer to help at the FTC State Championship event at S&T or World Championships in Saint Louis — visit www.usfirst.org.