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High Schoolers Showcase Engineering Excellence
New York Ag Connection - 03/20/2017

This year, 36 teams of high school students from the Capital Region, New York state, South Carolina, Canada, India, and Turkey, along with hundreds of teachers, industry mentors, parents, and 3,000 pounds of metal, gears, and electronics, tested their skills in a unique competition where math, science, and engineering excellence are celebrated. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will once again host the New York Tech Valley Regional competition over this past weekend on the Rensselaer campus in the East Campus Athletic Village.

The New York Tech Valley Regional FIRST Robotics Competition combines the excitement of sports with the rigors of science and technology. In its fourth year, the New York Tech Valley FIRST Regional Robotics Competition is the ultimate Sport for the Mind where imagination and innovation come together. Working with adult mentors, students had six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season's engineering challenge. By combining the excitement of sport and beauty of art with the rigors of science and technology, teams of high school students are challenged to design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform tasks against a field of competitors, according to the organization.

The 2017 competition, FIRST STEAMworksSM, invited two adventure clubs from an era in which technology relied on steam power to prepare their airships for the ultimate long-distance race. Each three-team alliance scores points and prepares to take flight by building steam pressure, gathering materials to start the rotors, and boarding robots onto their airships. The adventurer club with the highest score at the end of the match was the best prepared for the race and won..

This year, participating teams had an opportunity to earn a spot at the FIRST Championship to be held April 19-22 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, or April 26-29 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo. The FIRST Robotics Competition anticipates that 3,336 teams in the U.S. and 24 countries worldwide will be competing in 55 regional events and 80 district events.

"The FIRST Robotics Competition isn't just about the robots," said Paul Schoch, associate professor in the Rensselaer Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering department, and director of the university's Center for Initiatives in PreCollege Education (CIPCE), who is serving as a co-chair along with Mary Burke.

The FIRST Robotics Competition New York Tech Valley Regional sponsors and volunteers come from some of the most highly regarded organizations, including Bechtel, GE, National Grid, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, GlobalFoundries, ASML, KLA-Tencor, M+W Group, Mattson Technology Inc., Turner Construction Company, AMAT, Lam Research, SCREEN Semiconductor Solutions, Wonik IPS, Edwards Vacuum, Applied Materials, nfrastructure, and PDF Solutions. Sponsors provide resources including time and talent from professional mentors, services, equipment, financial contributions, and volunteers.

The upcoming robotics competition is vital to The New Polytechnic, an emerging paradigm for teaching, learning, and research at Rensselaer. The New Polytechnic is transformative in the global impact of research, in its innovative pedagogy, and in the lives of students at Rensselaer.

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