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March 31, 2015
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Contact: Amanda Shell Jennings
Hundreds of students to compete in regional competition April 1-4
High school robotics teams have been building and programming robots since the start of 2015 in hopes of a first-place finish in this year’s recycling-themed challenge at the Knoxville Convention Center for Tennessee’s largest robotics competition.
Thirteen high school teams from the greater Knoxville area are among more than 50 regional entrants competing in the US FIRST Robotics Smoky Mountains Regional on April 1-4.
Local teams from Knoxville Catholic, Farragut, Bearden, Seymour, Oak Ridge, Austin-East, Maryville, Halls and Clinton high schools; Hardin Valley, L&N STEM and Knox County Schools Career Magnet academies; and Webb School of Knoxville are competing in the event.
“We’re excited to welcome the Smoky Mountains Regional back to our facility for a fifth year,” said Mary Bogert, general manager for the Knoxville Convention Center. “This year’s theme emphasizes the importance of recycling and green practices, which are principles we value highly at the Knoxville Convention Center. We are proud to once again host hundreds of future leaders in science, engineering and sustainability at the Convention Center.”
Each year, the robotics competition has a different theme. This year’s theme is “Recycling Rush,” and the main competition requires robots to stack tote bins on scoring platforms and gather pool noodles, representing litter, to place in “landfill zones.”
Two alliances made up of high school students and sponsoring professional advisers stand at either end of a playing field. Each team has three robots, and the robot team receives points for each tote bin stacked on the platforms and each piece of “litter” placed in the landfill zones.
The US FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition is a nationwide STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program created by Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST, to educate and motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in those fields, while building self-confidence, knowledge and life skills.
The teams load in, set up and practice on April 1-2. The tournament-style competition begins with qualifying rounds from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-5:45 p.m. on Friday, April 3, and from 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 4. The final rounds take place from 1:30-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, with the final awards ceremony immediately following. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public Friday and Saturday.
Since the fall, local high school students have worked with professional engineers and adult mentors to recruit sponsors and raise funds for their robotics teams. A live telecast Jan. 3 kicked off the 2015 FIRST robotics season and announced this year’s competition theme and unique robotics challenge to more than 75,000 students in cities around the globe, including Knoxville. The teams then had six short weeks to design, program and build their robots to participate in the 2015 Smoky Mountains Regional.
For 2015, more than $20 million in college scholarship opportunities from more than 180 scholarship providers and academic institutions are available to FIRST robotics participants.
The Knoxville Convention Center, managed by SMG, is located in downtown Knoxville adjacent to the Sunsphere. It boasts a 120,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 27,000-square-foot divisible ballroom and up to 25 meeting rooms. For more information, visit http://www.knoxvilleconventioncenter.com.