March 16, 2010

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The excitement and fun of the very first WPI Regional FIRST Tournament, held in WPI's Harrington Auditorium last week, was captured in a feature story in the (Worcester) Telegram & Gazette on Sunday, March 14, 2010. Already well known for its broad range of robotics competitions, its key technological contributions to FIRST Robotics, and its first-in-the nation undergraduate degree program in robotics engineering, WPI added a new feather in its robotics cap with this official regional tournament in the international FIRST competition. On Friday, March 12, the Telegram & Gazette published a gallery of photos from the event.

About 800 high school students from all over the Northeast competed with their original robotic creations. The competitive slate featured four teams from Worcester, including the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science team (Team 190), which WPI has sponsored since 1992, and the Green Reapers from Burncoat High School (Team 1735, which WPI also supports), which reached the final round and won the Industrial Design Award.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a non-profit organization founded by inventor and WPI alumnus Dean Kamen to help high school students discover the excitement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and the rewards of a STEM-focused career. Now in its 19th year, FIRST engages more than 45,000 high school students on more than 1,800 teams, who will participate in 43 regional competitions around the globe this year. The WPI Regional and the other regional and district competitions (and one state championship) will lead up to the 2010 FIRST Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, April 15-17.

WPI's bachelor's program in robotics engineering was launched in 2007; a master's program was added in 2009. Along with a host of WPI-sponsored robotics competitions geared toward children ages 9-18, the degree programs are designed to prepare a new generation of engineers with the skills and imagination to develop intelligent machines that go beyond today's reality. Last fall, WPI hosted the inaugural Robotics Innovation Competition and Conference, which challenged college students to engineer innovative robotics solutions to real-world problems. On April 10, it will offer the WPI RoboEthics Symposium, which will explore ethical issues surrounding the use of robots. BattleCry@WPI, one of the most popular national off-season FIRST Robotics tournaments for high school teams, will be held May 7-8 at WPI.

Other media covering the WPI FIRST Regional include