Yale University and United Illuminating Company Send
Career Regional High School Robotics Team to National Competition

Students from Career Regional Magnet High School will depart for Hartford on March 1 for the first phase of the FIRST Robotics Competition, thanks to sponsorship from Yale and the United Illuminating Company.

The students’ entry is sponsored by Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs and the United Illuminating Company, which contributed materials, equipment and two of its engineers to the design and assembly of the robot, said Claudia Merson, Yale’s public school partnership coordinator. The first phase takes place in the Meadows Theater in Hartford.

Touted as “the ultimate mind sport” of students in middle and high schools by Dean Kamen, president of DEKA Research and Development Corp., the competition provides “varsity excitement on the challenging academic playing field. FIRST’s mission is to stimulate interest in math and science among young people. By putting the companies together and putting them in FIRST, which I like to think is the ‘Olympic Committee of Smarts,’ we’re saying ‘Do for science and technology what you do for other things–create demand among kids and the rest will follow.’” Kamen is the winner of the “1994 Engineer of the Year ” award from Design News magazine.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition has developed into a national contest that immerses students in science and engineering. The finale is a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for the National Championships April 6 through 8.

Partnering with volunteer engineers from UI, the students work as a team, building their own robot, programming its actions and operating it during the competition. The Career High School team includes Theresa Matthews, Career High School physics teacher and the project’s engineering advisor; Jim Crowe, retired UI executive and project volunteer; John Buffa, UI engineer and project volunteer; Charlene Cupole, Career High School teacher and project advisor; and students Patrick Harewood, Alex Avila, Josh Dill, Jose Ramos and Uchenna Nwachuku.

The Career High School team’s robot will compete in several heats against another robot in an arena 24 feet wide by 48 feet long, with goals at both ends. The robot must be able to place as many of the 21 balls located at one end of the arena into a goal at the opposite end after traversing a moving “bridge” midway up the field. The team that accumulates the most points after playing a series of two-minute rounds is the winner. If the Career High School team wins the regionals, it’s off to the nationals in Orlando.

Over 380 teams are expected to participate in the competition, a 40 percent increase from last year.

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