The Northern New York Robotics Institute (NNYRI) and Clarkson University (its founding institution) strongly support the vision of FIRST in the Northern New York region at all levels. A key goal of the NNYRI is to help develop sustainable, high quality, robotics-based education programs, both extracurricular and in-the-classroom, within the relatively rural and economically disadvantaged region of Northern New York State commonly referred to as the “North Country” or “Seaway Valley.” This is being accomplished by the NNYRI through the support of its regional educational institutions, e.g., Clarkson University, Saint Lawrence University, SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton, in partnership with the regional New York State (NYS) Boards of Cooperative Educational Services’ (BOCES1) districts, e.g., the St. Lawrence-Lewis District (SLL-BOCES) encompassing all 18 school districts within the state’s St. Lawrence and Lewis counties and the adjacent Franklin-Essex-Hamilton (FEH)-BOCES district which includes 10 additional school districts.
By effectively leveraging these regional resources, the NNYRI looks to take advantage of existing organizational staff and expertise to develop at least one JFLL, FLL, and FTC team within every school district within the region. It is further anticipated that the benefits realized by those communities participating in these FIRST-sponsored extracurricular programs will enable the NNYRI to seek additional resources from state, federal and other sources, e.g., industry and private foundations, to fund the development of standards-based robotics experiences in the classroom that are both rigorous and relevant with the potential to impact even larger K-12 student populations.
To achieve its goals, the NNYRI has worked closely with the regional SLL and FEH-BOCES districts. As a result, a Robotics COSER program was developed that will allow regional school districts to sustainably participate in the JFLL, FLL, FTC and FRC programs using a combination of local district resources and state aid under the coordination of the SLL-BOCES staff and NNYRI members. To date, 14 school districts within the SLL-BOCES district and 30 teams (i.e., 15 FLL, 14 FTC and 1 FRC team, each with a NNYRI trained teacher serving as the coach) have committed to participating in the Robotics COSER. Other school districts within the state can also participate in this Robotics COSER through the SLL-BOCES, such as the FEH-BOCES’ Salmon River Central School District associated with FRC Team229.
Clarkson is well-grounded in the FIRST philosophy and charter, having supported a successful FRC team (Team 2293) that works with two regional high schools, e.g., Massena HS in the SLL-BOCES district and Salmon River HS in the FEH-BOCES district, since 1998. This outreach effort has an annual budget of approximately $40K and is funded largely from an endowed budget-line within Clarkson’s award winning2 Student Projects for Engineering Experience & Design (SPEED4) program office, directed by Robert Davis. The FRC team has been advised since its inception by NNYRI founder James Carroll, a faculty member in Clarkson’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a researcher with a background in robotics. The FRC team averages approximately 30 interdisciplinary Clarkson students (freshmen through seniors) and 40 high school students per year. These students, in conjunction with local community members, e.g., volunteers from academia, business and industry, provide a crucial source of volunteer support to mentor the regional JFLL, FLL and FTC teams, as well as help run the annual Clarkson-hosted JFLL, FLL and FTC tournaments held in the December time frame.
Division by Zero
Clarkson SPEED Teams