University of Scranton Hosts FIRST® Tech Challenge EAST Super-Regional Robotics Competition for the third year!

Mar 10, 2017

Imagine a cross between a science fair and a tournament-style athletic contest, with remote- controlled robots injecting extra electricity.

Welcome to “Sport for the Mind,” a competitive arena for the young and intellectual complete with mountain climbing robots, rescue beacons and avalanche debris in the form of plastic balls and blocks!

From March 17-19, 2017 The University of Scranton will play host to a key leg of FIRST Tech Challenge®, an international competition for seventh- through 12th-graders. FIRST® or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a New Hampshire-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to encourage learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

This is the third consecutive year that this very special FIRST Robotics event will be held in Scranton with the organizers commitment to keep it in Pennsylvania and Scranton through 2019.

The students involved in this robotics competition learn leadership, networking and communication skills as they engage their specially designed robots against one another in a sports themed game of goals and strategy.

They also are already winners, as the teams that will gather at the University have won regional and state competitions that qualified them to participate in the East Super-Regional, or penultimate, leg of the competition. The East Super-Regional, which will begin at 9:00 a.m. March 18 for spectators, will welcome 72 teams, representing states from Maine to Virginia, as they attempt to advance to the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship to be held from April 27-30 in St. Louis, Missouri.

This year’s competition game is called VELOCITY VORTEXSM played by two, 2 team Alliances. Five small balls called Particles and one large ball called a Cap Ball are put into intensive play. At the start of a match, each alliance has three Particles available for preloading and scoring during the Autonomous period. Each alliance can earn up to two more Particles for use during the Driver-Controlled period by claiming Beacons during the Autonomous period.

Each team consists of two driver-operators, a coach and a Wi-Fi-enabled robot, some of which will have the ability to move autonomously with sensors. The robot initially must fit inside 18- inch cube but can “grow” after a match begins to optimize play.

The public, which can view the three-day competition for free, can expect creative team names – Mechanical Paradox, a 4-H Team from MD or The Techno Chix, a Girl Scout team from New York, for example – as well as imaginatively decorated pit areas. Given the nature of the competition as a true sport cheering, noise, dancing and pure fun is also encouraged and experienced.

The East Super Regional Championship events will take place inside the John Long Center and the Byron Recreational Complex on campus. Teams and volunteers will check in at noon on Friday, March 17, with judging and inspections taking place from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. Match competitions resume on Saturday, March 18, with opening ceremonies beginning at 9 a.m. Qualification matches will follow until noon and again from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. On Sunday, March 19, the last of the qualification matches will be played starting at 8:30 a.m. and Division Finals will commence at 1:30 p.m.. The Championship finals will take place thereafter until 3:30 p.m.. Closing ceremonies will begin at 3:45 p.m.

Other cities hosting Super Regional competitions are: Tacoma Washington; Athens, Georgia; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Scranton and the other locations were selected as hosts based on timing, accessibility, safety, local support and resources to execute a strong event.

Thirty-four (34) teams are expected to advance from the Scranton competition to April’s FTC World Championships in St. Louis.


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