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Posted on January 16, 2015

Hundreds of students from schools and community groups throughout the region have begun preparing for the 2015 Greater Pittsburgh Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition March 5-7 in the Cal U Convocation Center.

A high school student steadies his robot at a Cal U First Robotics Competition.

More than 1,200 students on 54 teams from Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Ontario, Canada, will put their custom-built robots to the test while building life skills and expertise in science, technology, engineering and math.

For Cal U, the FIRST tournament is one of several STEM-based contests coming this spring to the Cal U Convocation Center.

The FIRST Robotics challenge

The FIRST Robotics season kicked off earlier this month when FIRST founder Dean Kamen introduced this year’s challenge, RECYCLE RUSHSM, via a broadcast viewed by about 3,000 teams across the United States and in five nations overseas.

Watch the kickoff broadcast.

After student competitors viewed the RECYCLE RUSH playing field, each team received an identical “kit of parts” to use in building its robot. Working with adult mentors — typically engineers or previous FIRST competitors — the students have six weeks to design, build, program and test their robots before the regional competition.

In this year’s challenge, two alliances of three robots each will compete on a 52-by-27-foot playing field. Robots score points by stacking totes on platforms, topping the stacks with recycling containers, and disposing of plastic “pool noodles” that represent litter.

In keeping with the theme of this year’s challenge, local teams or the FIRST organization will reuse or recycle all game pieces at the end of the season.

STEM competitions

This semester Cal U will host a variety of competitions focused on science, technology, engineering and math at the Cal U Convocation Center, where the robots come out to play.

   •  March 5-7 — Greater Pittsburgh Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition

   •  March 18 — Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Science Olympiad

   •  April 24-25 — Southwestern Pennsylvania BotsIQ Final

For more information about these events, e-mail Michael Amrhein, director, Office of Integration and Outreach for T.E.A.M.S. (Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math and Science) at Cal U.