Science and Sport Combine at FIRST Tech Challenge Championship Tournament at U.Va.'s Engineering School

Robotics Competition Gets Students Excited About Engineering
Nov. 19, 2007 — Teens from high, middle and home schools across Virginia have been tasked with the challenge of designing and building an original robot in the 2007 Virginia FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge Championship Tournament ( On Saturday, Dec. 1, at University Hall in Charlottesville, weeks of design and construction will culminate in the FIRST Tech Challenge Championship Tournament, where 48 teams of students and engineering and technical mentors will demonstrate their skill for science, mathematics and technology. They will compete for honors and recognition that reward design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship and high-impact partnerships between schools, businesses and communities.

Each team is comprised of professional mentors and a maximum of 10 students. Teams must determine their strategy and program, then build and test a robot using an innovative robotics platform. In the 2007 game, “Quad Quandary,” students’ robots place 3-inch PVC rings on movable single or paired goals, side goals or posts. Extra points are scored by moving single or paired goals into an alliance’s playing field quadrant. The fast-paced matches include a 20-second autonomous period followed by two minutes of driver-controlled play.
Inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people, their schools and their communities. The FIRST Tech Challenge is an accessible, affordable robotics competition designed for high-school-aged students. Student teams apply real-world math and science concepts to solve the annual challenge. They compete and cooperate in alliances at high-energy regional tournaments that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration and the determination of students. Through their FIRST involvement, students discover the rewarding and engaging process of innovation and engineering.

During the 2007 season, approximately 800 FIRST Tech Challenge teams will compete in events in the U.S., Canada and Mexico for a chance to advance to the FIRST Championship, scheduled for April 17-19 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

“The goal of the FIRST Tech Challenge is to reach young people so they can discover the excitement and rewards of science, technology and engineering,” Kamen said. “Working alongside engineers and other professionals, students experience the real-world application of science and math concepts. The hands-on problem solving required in the FIRST Tech Challenge develops valuable skills students will need as they progress toward higher education and eventually professional careers.”

According to FIRST president Paul Gudonis, "The FIRST Tech Challenge creates powerful relationships between kids and their mentors that help them develop into the engineers, scientists and other talented people we need in the future. FIRST mentors are, in turn, rewarded with the enjoyment of watching their young team members learn and grow in leadership qualities, work ethics, teamwork, critical thinking skills and self-confidence."

“U.Va.’s Engineering School is proud to host the FIRST Tech Challenge,” said James H. Aylor, dean of U.Va.’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. “This is an opportunity for students interested in science, technology and engineering to meet and compete with peers from across Virginia who share similar passions. The academic and social benefits of this competition are immeasurable.”  


Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering. With the support of many of the world’s most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge for high-school students, FIRST LEGO League for children 9-14 years old, and Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6- to 9-year-olds. To learn more about FIRST, go to

About the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science

Founded in 1836, the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science combines research and educational opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Within the undergraduate programs, courses in engineering, ethics, mathematics, the sciences and the humanities are available to build a strong foundation for careers in engineering and other professions. Its abundant research opportunities complement the curriculum and educate young men and women to become thoughtful leaders in technology and society. At the graduate level, the Engineering School collaborates with the University’s highly ranked medical and business schools on interdisciplinary research projects and entrepreneurial initiatives. With a distinguished faculty and a student body of 2,000 undergraduates and 650 graduate students, the Engineering School offers an array of engineering disciplines, including cutting-edge research programs in computer and information science and engineering, bioengineering and nanotechnology.