The University of Texas at El Paso’s College of Engineering will host the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) League Championship robotics competition for local 7th to 12th graders on Jan. 30, 2016.
The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 8 a.m. Attendees are invited to watch up-close as students prepare their robots for the competition. The competition will officially begin at 1 p.m.
The league championship is part of the annual For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology (FIRST) family of robotics competitions. FIRST is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire young people to become scientists and engineers by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs, which are designed to build science, engineering and technology skills.
“FIRST provides students with a well-rounded and well-balanced set of skills toward college and career development,” said Virgilio Gonzalez, Ph.D., clinical associate professor and associate chair of electrical and computer engineering at UTEP. “In FIRST, we don’t just tell them ‘Build this;’ we provide students with an objective to get them to work together, think critically, build research and technical skills, and gain the ability to deal with real-world problems.”
This is the first year that UTEP, a FIRST Affiliate Partner, has held league play. During the season, teams of 7th through 12th graders have met in three league meets leading up to the FTC League Championship. Teams will carry 15 of their best match scores into the championship, where a final round of five qualifying matches will be played.
This year’s theme, FIRST RES-Q, is modeled after rescue situations faced by mountain explorers all over the globe. Teams will compete in alliances comprised of two robots each and will score points by resetting rescue beacons, delivering rescue climbers to a shelter, parking on mountains, and parking in the rescue beacon repair zone or floor goal.
Students will be judged by a panel of UTEP graduate students, faculty and alumni, along with engineers from the El Paso community. Before competing on the floor, students will be interviewed by the judges to evaluate their tech development, community involvement and outreach.
Winners will receive a trophy and advance to the Regional Championship in Lubbock later this spring. Winning teams also will be eligible to advance to the Texas UIL Robotics Championships, as FIRST is now a University Interscholastic League (UIL) recognized extracurricular activity.
Approximately 12 teams will be competing in the FTC League Championship, including Lydia Patterson Institiute, which is new to FIRST, as well as veteran teams from Harmony School of Innovation, Da Vinci School for Science and the Arts, and El Dorado, Montwood and Cathedral high schools.
What: FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) League Championship robotics competition
When: 8 a.m.- 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30. Competition begins at 1 p.m.
Where: Memorial Gym, UTEP Campus