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A team of students from Hill Regional Career High School and Common Ground Charter School will represent the city in the FIRST Robotics Competition, founded by Dean Kamen of DEKA Research, when they head to the New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum from April 4 through 6.

The students’ entry is sponsored by Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs, which enlisted the help of the Yale engineering department, and the United Illuminating Company, which contributed funds for materials and equipment as well as two of its engineers to the design and assembly of the robot, said Claudia Merson, Yale’s public schools partnership coordinator.

Kamen, who recently introduced the Segway TM Human Transporter (HT), created FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) to instill an appreciation of science and technology in young people, their schools and their communities. Currently in its eleventh year, the FIRST Robotics Competition anticipates its largest season ever this year with more than 650 teams representing nearly every state in the U.S.

“The FIRST Robotics Competition is not just about the design and building of sophisticated robots. These students also develop maturity, professionalism, teamwork and mentoring skills that enrich their lives,” said Kamen. “Many of our students develop an affinity for their science and math courses, go on to study engineering, technology or science in college and also pursue employment opportunities with sponsoring companies.”

Partnering with volunteer engineers from UI and machinists from Yale, the students work as a team, building their own robot, programming its actions and operating it during the competition. The team includes: Alex Avila, Robert Davis, Raynick Torres, Patrick Harewood, Joshua Dill, Brenden Morgan, Nick Olsen, Jose Ramos, Carlos Mercado, Will Rogers, Jacqueline Vaughan, Adrianne Smith, Migel Solar, Juan Anguita, Andrea Brooks and Charlise Gonzalez from Hill Regional Career High School; Shane Browing, Heather Eng and Timothy Toliver from Common Ground High School; teachers Angel Tangney, Teresa Matthews, Laura Roblee and Charline Cupole; UI engineers Jim Crowe, John Buffa and Bill Scarpa; and Yale machinists Matt Sanchez, Tony Massino and David Johnson.

This year’s game, titled “Zone Zeal,” requires students to design their robots to race around a playing field gathering balls, place the balls into goals and place the goals in their scoring zone - all in less than two minutes.

The 2002 FIRST Robotics Competition season comprises 17 regional competitions held in the U.S. and Canada in March and April and a championship event held April 25-27 at Walt Disney World’s Epcot in Orlando, Florida.

Note: Photographers and videographers may arrange photo opportunities by calling 946-8450.

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