Forty-two student teams from the Northeast and Great Britain will participate in the FIRST Regional Tournament at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) from March 7 to 9. As many as 2,000 high school students, their mentors, and families are expected to attend.
Students on the teams represent New England, New York, Washington, D.C., and Great Britain. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a program designed to inspire high school students to pursue higher education and careers in science, technology, and engineering through hands-on mentorship from people in those fields.
Colleen Shaver, assistant director of the WPI Robotics Resource Center, said the FIRST program allows students to engage in important hands-on learning opportunities while offering them mentorship in engineering fields and access to a team experience.
"More important, though, FIRST and WPI share the mission of teaching students through project-based programs that focus on both theory and practice," said Shaver. "We are excited to offer opportunities for thousands of potential students to showcase their creativity in robotics."
The theme of this year's regional tournament is "Ultimate Ascent." The teams, composed of high school students and their technical mentors, have six weeks to build a robot to compete in the challenge, but the robots are then sealed and the teams cannot work on them again until their regional tournaments. The challenge itself calls for robots to fling Frisbee discs into goals of varying heights and sizes. At the end of the match, they can score bonus points if they can climb their pyramid.
Winners of the WPI Regional competition as well as the prestigious WPI Regional Chairman's Award will advance to the international FIRST Championship held in St. Louis in April. FIRST hosts more than 40 regional tournaments throughout the United States, Canada, and Israel.
This marks the fourth year WPI will be hosting this event.
FIRST Regional Tournament; FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was created by Segway entrepreneur Dean Kamen, WPI Class of 1973.
42 student teams from the Northeast and Great Britain
Thursday, March 7, to Saturday, March 9; teams arrive on Thursday; matches take place Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The schedule and more information can be found here.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Harrington Auditorium and Sports and Recreation Center, Worcester, Mass.
Free and open to the public
Teams and spectators may park on streets surrounding WPI and in approved WPI parking lots on Thursday and Friday, including the new Park Avenue garage. Primary access into the garage will be from Salisbury Street. On Saturday, teams and spectators may park in any WPI lots and on the street.