Mohawk Valley Community College will host a regional FIRST® (For Inspiration of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge Robotics Qualifying Tournament on Sunday, Jan. 22, in the Robert R. Jorgensen Center Field House at the College’s Utica Campus, 1101 Sherman Drive. The competition is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The 24 teams — from as far away as Buffalo, Potsdam, Corning, and Westchester County, and as close as Utica’s Proctor High School and the Midtown Utica Community Center — have been creating this competition season’s robots since September. These FIRST Tech Challenge teams, comprised of students in grades seven through 12, collaborate on the design, fabrication, programming, testing, and constant improvement of their robots as they compete in this season’s “POWERPLAY” game challenge. Teams earn judged awards based on robot performance and control, innovation, community outreach, connections with STEM professionals as mentors, and the documentation of their engineering design process, including challenges they overcame during their journey. The top four teams from this event will advance to the Regional Championship, which also will be held at MVCC on Sunday, March 5.
During each 2.5-minute match, teams strategize with an alliance partner team to achieve a common goal against another set of two teams. Four robots run on the tournament field at once. Teams and robots try to achieve the highest score by navigating a system of poles placed every 2 feet and race against time to deposit cones onto 16 poles on the 12’x12’ playing field. Matches start with a 30-second autonomous period in which robots operate using only pre-programmed instructions coded in Java and sensor inputs. The following two minutes make up a driver-controlled/teleoperated period using game controllers. The most points are gained when the cone scoring elements are deposited onto the highest 3-foot poles.
MVCC has been a FIRST partner organization since 2020, serving 140 FIRST Tech Challenge teams of over 1,400 students. MVCC also has supported FIRST by providing robotics teams with access to the College’s experienced engineering faculty, as well as facilities with the additive and subtractive manufacturing capacity needed to assist during robot builds. The partnership also introduces MVCC’s engineering programs to high school students and provides information about a path to a bachelor’s degree or career. For more information about FIRST Tech Challenge, visit mvcc.edu/firstrobotics.
About Mohawk Valley Community College
Mohawk Valley Community College, established in 1946, is New York State’s first community college with a mission to provide accessible, high-quality educational opportunities for everyone. As the community’s college, MVCC is committed to student success through partnerships, transfer and career pathways, and personal enrichment. With campuses in Utica and Rome, MVCC is the region’s primary provider of college education, offering 90 degree and certificate options for its enrollment of 6,000 full- and part-time students. MVCC also serves an additional 6,000 people through its corporate and community education programs, and its campuses welcome more than 50,000 people annually for community events.
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, New Hampshire, 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 over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $80 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; and FIRST LEGO® League Discover, Explore and Challenge for Grades K-8. Gracious Professionalism® is the ethos of FIRST and 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 www.firstinspires.org.