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03-15-2012

Local FIRST Robotics Teams Mentored by Clarkson University Excel at Finger Lakes Regional

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/FIRST2012.jpg .]

During the first week of January, the 21st season of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) was unveiled to an audience of 800 people in New Hampshire and an estimated 60,000 people around the world who joined the Kickoff via NASA-TV to witness the unveiling of a new robotics game called “Rebound Rumble,” requiring robot alliances to compete in a three-on-three basketball-like competition.

Front row, left to right: Steve Robert (Coach), Bryce Ryan (M), Merenda DeLosh (M), Trina Thompson (S), Thomas Weitz (M), Aaron Rist (C), Honni David (M), Taylor Foster (M), Sako George (S), Jason Avery (M), Samantha MacDonald (S), Meghan Villnave (M), Myranda Carr (S). Back row left to right: Alan DiCiccio (C), Steve Wolf (C), Teioshontathe Herne (S), Corey Snyder (M), Justin Henry (C), Casey Godzyk (C), Evan Fregoe (M), Jon Weitz (M), PJ Reiniger (C), Jake Tyo (M), Dillon Point (S), Alan Davis (M), Nolan Cooke (S), Sabrina Bink (S), Ethan Fregoe (M), Brianna Barley (M), Thomas Boudreau (M), Morgan Chartier (S), Conner MacDonald (S), Dakota Tarbell (M), Ray Phillips (C), Chris Taylor (S), John Seeman (C), Blane Wehausen, (S), Darcie Fregoe (Coach), Adam Brewster (C), Libby Kamen (C), Zara Schmidt (C). C=Clarkson, M=Massena, S=Salmon River.Since then, 2,300 teams made up of high school students from 49 states and 12 countries have been feverishly working on their robots. The FRC program is designed so that teams have only six weeks to build their robot from a kit of parts with no instructions – one of the many life lessons that are part of this “competition of the mind.”

Clarkson University sponsors and mentors two FRC teams, Team 229: Division by Zero, and Team 4124: Integration by Parts, associated with students from the Salmon River and Massena Central School Districts, respectively, to design, build, and program exceptionally competitive robots.

Sponsored by the U.S. Air Force, the program has existed as Team 229 since 1998, but expanded this year thanks to grants from JCPenney and NASA to include rookie Team 4124, permitting more students to get a “hands-on” experience with the robot design/build process.

Affiliated with Clarkson’s nationally recognized SPEED Program, more than 20 Clarkson students receive college credit for mentoring the two FIRST teams in areas as diverse as engineering, communications and public relations. In addition to the Clarkson student mentors, the teams are advised by Massena teachers Steve Robert and Darcie Fregoe and Clarkson Professors James Carroll and Kevin Fite.

The teams competed at the Finger Lakes Regional March 8-10, in Rochester, N.Y., and both teams performed at a high level, with Team 229 finishing fourth in the qualification rounds and its alliance ultimately reaching the quarter-finals of the elimination rounds. Team 4124 was selected to participate in the elimination rounds with its alliance ultimately finishing the tournament in second place.

About the “Rebound Rumble” Game

The Rebound Rumble robotics game is played between two alliances of three teams each. Each alliance competes by trying to score as many of the basketballs in the hoops as possible during the 2-minute and 15-second match. Balls scored in higher hoops score alliances more points.

Alliances are awarded bonus points if they are balanced on bridges at the end of the match. In matches where opponent alliances work together to balance on the white bridge, all participating teams earn additional valuable seeding points.

Each team receives a kit of parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC, and a mix of automation components – but no instructions. Working with adult mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Once these young inventors create a robot, their teams participate in competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

About the FIRST Robotics Competition

The FIRST Robotics Competition is an annual competition that helps students discover the excitement of science, engineering, and technology and the rewards a career in STEM can bring. In 1992, the FIRST Robotics Competition began with 28 teams and a single 14-by-14-foot playing field in a New Hampshire high school gym. This season, more than 2,300 teams, comprised of over 58,000 high school students (grades 9 – 12), will participate. Fifty-two regional events, 1 State Championship, 1 Regional Championship, and 14 District Competitions will lead up to the 2012 FIRST Championship in St. Louis’ Edward Jones Dome, April 25 – 28.

FIRST programs are spearheaded by more than 100,000 dedicated volunteers worldwide, most of them professional engineers and scientists who mentor the next generation of innovators. The program is supported by a network of more than 3,500 sponsors, including corporations, educational and professional institutions, and individuals.

Participating students are eligible to apply for nearly $12 million in scholarships offered by leading universities, colleges, and companies.

About FIRST

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 support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and nearly $15 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) for high-school students, FIRST LEGO League (FLL) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr. FLL) for 6 to 9-year-olds.

2011 marked the 20th season of the FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST has grown from 1 event to nearly 60 and from 28 teams to over 2000. Much has changed over the first twenty seasons…but our key goals remain the same; our commitment to Gracious Professionalism, our emphasis on learning, helping one another and inspiring careers in math, science, engineering and technology.

Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to http://www.usfirst.org.

About Clarkson University

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Front row, left to right: Steve Robert (Coach), Bryce Ryan (M), Merenda DeLosh (M), Trina Thompson (S), Thomas Weitz (M), Aaron Rist (C), Honni David (M), Taylor Foster (M), Sako George (S), Jason Avery (M), Samantha MacDonald (S), Meghan Villnave (M), Myranda Carr (S). Back row left to right: Alan DiCiccio (C), Steve Wolf (C), Teioshontathe Herne (S), Corey Snyder (M), Justin Henry (C), Casey Godzyk (C), Evan Fregoe (M), Jon Weitz (M), PJ Reiniger (C), Jake Tyo (M), Dillon Point (S), Alan Davis (M), Nolan Cooke (S), Sabrina Bink (S), Ethan Fregoe (M), Brianna Barley (M), Thomas Boudreau (M), Morgan Chartier (S), Conner MacDonald (S), Dakota Tarbell (M), Ray Phillips (C), Chris Taylor (S), John Seeman (C), Blane Wehausen, (S), Darcie Fregoe (Coach), Adam Brewster (C), Libby Kamen (C), Zara Schmidt (C). C=Clarkson, M=Massena, S=Salmon River.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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