ECU to host global robotics event on Jan. 4

ECU-designed robots like the one pictured above demonstrated their abilities to react to heat, avoid obstacles or dance the hokey pokey during a 2012 Stem Girls activity for middle schoolers interested in science, technology, engineering and math. High school engineers will visit ECU this month to join in an international robotics competition, the first time the event has been hosted in eastern North Carolina. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

ECU-designed robots like the one pictured above demonstrated their abilities to react to heat, avoid obstacles or dance the hokey pokey during a 2012 Stem Girls activity for middle schoolers interested in science, technology, engineering and math. High school engineers will visit ECU this month to join in an international robotics competition, the first time the event has been hosted in eastern North Carolina. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

 

As many as 400 young engineers participating in an international robotics competition will visit East Carolina University on Saturday, Jan. 4 to receive their parts kit and assignment for this year’s robot.

The FIRST Robotics Competition is an annual competition that challenges high school students – working alongside professional mentors – to design and build a robot. Pitt County high school students have performed well in this competition in years past working as the Pitt Pirates. The 2012 team placed first in the Raleigh regional event and went on to compete in St. Louis against international opponents.

FIRST will hold two kickoff events in North Carolina this year, during which organizers will unveil the requirements for the 2014 robot. This is the first time eastern North Carolina has hosted the event, according to FIRST officials. The other in-state host is UNC-Charlotte.

“Part of our university’s mission is to provide service and opportunities to citizens in the eastern region of the state and this event does that,” said Evelyn Brown, professor of engineering and FIRST event organizer.

“We also believe many of these students who participate in robotics competitions are suited well for our College of Technology and Computer Science majors: computer science, construction management, engineering and technology systems. So exposing them to our campus may help them chose ECU or simply choose to seek additional education after high school.”

The unveiling of this year’s requirements will take place by videoconference at 10:30 a.m. in Hendrix Theatre. From 1-5 p.m., students will have the choice of beginning work on their designs with the help of ECU engineering faculty in the Mendenhall Student Center, or they may join a human-player game on a mock robotics competition field in the Student Recreation Center.

Teams have six weeks to design and build robots programmed to meet the engineering challenge.

This year’s competition is expected to draw 2,850 teams composed of more than 71,000 high school students to participate in nearly 100 regional and district events spread across the country.

Inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. More information about the organization is available at www.usfirst.org.

 

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