Robotics Competition June 14 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Hundreds of high school students compete in Battlecry IV

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, MA Students from more than 50 high schools from around the Northeast will compete and test their strategic skills and technical expertise as they take part in BattleCry 4 @WPI on Saturday, June 14. BattleCry is one of the largest robotics competitions in New England. Robots do battle on a specially designed playing field in Harrington Auditorium on the campus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which hosts the annual event. The competition is cosponsored by Tyco Safety Products in Westminster, Massachusetts.

"BattleCry is one of the most competitive and exciting robotics events in the nation," said Ken Stafford, Manager of Academic Initiatives at WPI and director of BattleCry @ WPI. "We want people to have a chance to see sophisticated, high-tech machines duel in an intense, high-energy contest modeled on competitive sports match ups," he explained. "This is also a wonderful opportunity to see how participating in robotics contests stirs up a passion for science and engineering among high school kids. These are some of the young people who will help America maintain its technological leadership in the coming decades."

The 36 teams participating in BattleCry recently completed national championships that are part of the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) competition. The line up includes teams from throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.

"The robots that will be competing on the fourteenth have been tested in competition, refined and improved in the weeks following the FIRST season," explained Stafford. "They are driven by crews that have worked out the kinks in their competitive strategies and have learned to work together in the heat of battle. This is sure to be an amazing contest."

The 130 pound robots, joined by human players and supported by crews of drivers, controllers and strategists, go head to head in competitions modeled after this year's FIRST contests.

This year's game, STACK ATTACK, requires robots to collect and stack plastic storage containers on their side of the playing field. The location of the containers and the height of the stacks will determine each team's score for each round. Each match will feature two-team alliances playing from diagonally opposite ends of the playing field. There will 29 containers located across the top of the center platform in the shape of a pyramid. Also, each alliance will be allowed to have a human player from each team enter the playing field before the start of the match to freely place or stack eight additional containers.

The robots from each of the four teams will be placed in starting positions in the alleys at each side of the center platform on the opposite side of midfield from their drivers. After the human players have been allowed 10 seconds to place their containers and exit the field, the robots will be allowed 15 seconds to function autonomously, without driver control of any kind, to race to the various container stacks to collect or maneuver them for scoring opportunities or, perhaps, to knock down their opponents containers. After the "Autonomous Period", the robots will be under complete control of their drivers and controllers for the remaining 1 minute and 45 seconds of the match. The object of the game is to collect and stack containers on your team's side of the field. Each legal container on your side of the field counts as one point. The final score is the result of multiplying the number of containers in the highest stack by the total number of legal containers in your alliance's scoring zone. An additional 25 points is awarded for a robot that is positioned on the top of the ramp platform.

Victorious teams receive trophies and medals in a number of categories. Teams will begin arriving at 7 a.m. and the competition begins at 8:45 a.m. The finals will get underway at 2:30 p.m. Admission to the day's events is free.

"We think this is a great opportunity for families and kids to see how much fun the teams have with science and technology," said Stafford. "It becomes both physically and mentally challenging, and everyone - the teams and the spectators - have a blast!" For more information about the BattleCry, visit the website at www.wpi.edu/News/Events/BattleCry.

WHAT: BattleCry 4 - FIRST Robotics Competition
WHEN: Saturday, June 14 - competition begins at 8:45 a.m.
WHERE: Harrington Auditorium, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester
COST: Free of charge
MORE INFO: www.wpi.edu/News/Events/BattleCry

About WPI

WPI is a pioneer in technological higher education, and is recognized as one of the leading outcomes-oriented undergraduate programs preparing people for success in our technological world. Since its founding in 1865, WPI has broadened and perfected an influential curriculum that balances theory and practice.

This innovative and unique combination of educational methods, learning environment and a worldwide network of project centers is located in Worcester, Massachusetts, WPI supports the academic and research pursuits of over 2,800 undergraduate students, 1,200 graduate students and 220 faculty pursuing opportunities to blend technological research and practice with societal needs, delivering meaningful real-world benefits.

For over a century, WPI has awarded advanced degrees in the sciences and engineering disciplines, as well as the management of technology and business. Our alumni include Robert Goddard, the father of modern rocketry; Harold Black, inventor of the principle of negative-feedback; Carl Clark, inventor of the first practical airbag safety system; Dean Kamen, inventor of the first wearable drug infusion pump; and many others who contribute to the transformation of our technological world.