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CWU to Host, Provide Tuition Waivers for US FIRST Robotic Competitions

November 20, 2012

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — More than 1,000 high school scientists and engineers will descend upon Central Washington University on March 21-23 for one of  57 regional high school robotics tournaments in the U.S.  CWU will award tuition waivers to finalists for the "Dean's List," an award for leadership and personal technical expertise and accomplishment.  "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology" (FIRST) is the national sponsor of the tournaments.

"I can't think of a more exciting way to encourage students to learn about science and engineering and we're delighted to be partnering with FIRST on this series of events," said CWU President James L. Gaudino, who added that CWU is one of only 25 colleges and universities in North America hosting FIRST Robotics Competitions (FRC) Regionals. "Science and math outreach to middle and high school students is already a strong component of CWU's educational philosophy and FIRST tournaments complement and enrich that mission."

FIRST Robotics Competitions build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills, while motivating young people to pursue educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math. In addition to putting engineering talent to work, students earn awards for community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments, according to FIRST Regional Director Michael Campbell.

"FIRST is looking forward to a long-term partnership with CWU to inspire and recognize future inventors and innovators in Washington state," said Campbell.

In October, registration for FRC Regionals at CWU opened and filled within a few hours. More than 50 teams are registered with an average of 20 students, plus teachers and parents.  With the event attracting more than 1,000 students and supporters, Arthur Morken, CWU graduate student and the chair of the Regional Advisory Committee, said that the greater Ellensburg community would play an important part in hosting the conference for everything from event judging to conference registration.

"You don't have to be an engineer to be involved in the fun and excitement," said Morken, adding that the tournament has the excitement of a sports championship. "If you like competition, if you love to see high school students learning and having fun—then you're the perfect volunteer!"

FIRST also is partnering with CWU to host robotics challenges for students in elementary and middle schools: the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) for 9 to 14-year-olds and Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9-year-olds.  High school students will come to CWU to participate in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) on December 1 in CWU's Hogue Technology Building. Events scheduled at CWU in Ellensburg, include the following:
--December 8: Vex Robotics Competition, Grades 6-12, Hogue Technology Building
--January 26: FIRST LEGO League, grades 4-8; grades K-4, SURC
--February 23: FIRST LEGO League, grades 4-8; grades K-4, Student Union & Recreation Center, Eastern Washington State FLL Championship
--March 20-23: FIRST Robotics Challenge, grades 9-12, Field House, 2013 Central Washington Regional FIRST Robotics Competition

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. To recognize the leadership and dedication of FIRST’s most outstanding FRC students, the Kamen family sponsors an award for selected top students, known as the FIRST Dean’s List, including Semi-Finalists, Finalists, and Winners. The award recognizes the character and knowledge of individuals, including contributions to their teams; technical expertise and passion; entrepreneurship and creativity; and ability to motivate and lead fellow team members.
FIRST enjoys the support of three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and provides more than $14 million in college scholarships annually.  To learn more about FIRST, go to, as well as

Media Contact: Linda Schactler,, 509-963-1384
  Michael Campbell,, 206-390-3040

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