U.VA. MEDIA ADVISORY: Teens Will Compete Feb. 27 to Build Better 'Bots

February 22, 2010

February 22, 2010 — Lessons in engineering, mathematics and physics will come to life as high school students wage battle with their robotic creations during the 2009-2010 Virginia FIRST Tech Challenge, to be held Saturday, Feb. 27, at University Hall at the University of Virginia.

More than 40 teams that competed in local qualifying events are expected. The competition will begin with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Afterward, teams will compete in head-to-head elimination matches followed by finals. The day will end with an awards ceremony at 5:30 p.m. With teams competing on four separate fields of play, there will be near constant robotic action throughout the day.

The event is free and open to the public.

U.Va. School of Engineering and Applied Science faculty, staff and students will serve as judges and referees and in other support roles. George Cahen, director of experiential programs at the school, helped FIRST and Northrop Grumman organize the event. Cahen and Kathy Thornton, associate dean of graduate programs at the school and former NASA astronaut, will serve as judges and referees.

Top teams will advance to regional competitions, which will culminate in April in a championship match at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

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 programs to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering. The not-for-profit organization hosts a variety of competitions for children starting as young as 6.

In addition to the main competition, Tech Fair 2010 will be held upstairs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The fair will feature new technologies, software, robots and informational booths from engineering and technology companies and schools in the region. 

This year's Virginia FIRST Tech Challenge is sponsored by the U.Va. Engineering School, Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine, Dominion Resources and others.

REPORTERS AND EDITORS: Please contact Zak Richards if you're interested in covering.