ELLENSBURG, Wash. (March 19, 2013) — More than 1,000 students from 50 teams throughout Washington and Oregon will come to Central Washington University this week for the Central Washington Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition.
This is one of 52 similar events being held across the US during a six-week period. Each event focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education by using robots as educational tools. Participating high school students coming to CWU have already built 120-pound robots earlier this year that will compete in “Ultimate Ascent,” a three-on-three Ultimate Frisbee tournament.
“There will be six robots competing at one time,” said Arthur Morken, instructional and classroom technician with CWU’s Engineering Technologies, Safety and Construction Department, who is coordinating the Ellensburg event. “You may see Frisbees traveling at up to 60 miles an hour, and accurate up to 50 feet from their target.”
Each team has industry and technology mentors—such as engineers, computer science professionals, and technicians—that help mentor students. In addition, more than 90 volunteers, including CWU students, faculty, and Ellensburg community members are assisting with the event.
FIRST Robotics Competitions, designed for students ages 6-18, combine the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Founded more than 20 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen, the annual programs culminate in an international robotics competition. Winning teams at the Ellensburg regional championship with move on to the national championship in St. Louis, Missouri.
The CWU event, which is free and open to the public, will be held from Thursday, March 21, through Saturday, March 23. The recommended best times for spectators are Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Parking passes are required on Friday, parking is free on Saturday.
The regional championship is the sixth and, by far, largest robotics event hosted by CWU this year. More than 1,000 elementary and junior high students came to the Ellensburg campus for similar events earlier in the academic year.
Morken says planning has been ongoing for the past two years to host the regional championship in Ellensburg, adding, “We want this to be an annual event.”
Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487, firstname.lastname@example.org.