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Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 11:57am
El Paso, TX (UTEP) — For the fourth year in a row, The University of Texas at El Paso’s College of Engineering will host the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Championship and the first noncompetitive robotics scrimmage in collaboration with the El Paso STEM Foundation.
Both events are part of the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) robotics competitions that give students real-world engineering experience. FIRST is a national nonprofit organization whose sole mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs designed to build science, engineering and technology skills.
This year's theme, “Nature’s Fury,” will challenge elementary and middle school participants to explore the awe-inspiring storms, earthquakes and waves produced in nature and how they can be prevented. Teams will have the opportunity to craft highly intelligent approaches to preparation, safety and reconstruction when faced with the destructive energy of natural events.
The event is free and open to the public.
For the first time, UTEP and the El Paso STEM Foundation will host a friendly scrimmage from 12:30-1:30 p.m. for high school students preparing for the regional FIRST Robotics Competitions in February and March.
According to Virgilio Gonzalez, Ph.D., associate chair of electrical and computer engineering at UTEP, the scrimmage will be an opportunity to test participants’ robots, receive feedback from other teams and possibly try strategies for alliances.
"For the first time in El Paso, there will be a demonstration of the high school robots participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition friendly scrimmage," Gonzalez said. “At the same time the public will have the opportunity to see small robots and the solutions to mitigate the impact of natural disasters proposed by elementary and middle school students participating in the FIRST Lego League.”
The robotic events that UTEP hosts actively engage young students to think, explore and create solutions as a means to inspire young minds to consider an engineering career, Gonzalez said.
According to Liza Montelongo, vice president of the El Paso STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Foundation, the scrimmage is an excellent opportunity for schools in the region to become part of the FIRST Robotics Competitions (FRC).
“We are able to offer this opportunity to local high schools free of charge,” Montelongo said. “Our next step is to host an FRC-sanctioned regional competition in El Paso so we can keep increasing the number of area schools participating, making it affordable and giving our students the opportunity to build their robots and compete against other teams from across the nation and from Mexico.”
The El Paso STEM Foundation's goal is to increase the number of schools participating by hosting the FRC regional in El Paso, put a spotlight on UTEP’s world-class College of Engineering, and place El Paso on the map as the true “STEM Hub of the Nation.”
“We want our students to have the opportunity to build their robots and experience the energy of the ‘sport for the mind’ while simultaneously preparing them to enter into university life and the STEM workforce,” Montelongo said.
FIRST competitions not only provide students with an experience to develop their math and science problem solving skills at an early age, they also teach organization, communication and delegation.
For more information about the FRC competition visit: http://engineering.utep.edu/plaza/robotics/competitionutep.html.