Tech Valley Regional FIRST Robotics competition underway at RPI

March 17, 2018 03:50 PM

TROY - The fifth annual Tech Valley Regional FIRST Robotics competition is underway at RPI.

“All of us get pretty energized by the experience,” said Shen mentor Douglas Wildes.


The whole idea behind FIRST Robotics is to make STEM fun and exciting. They liken their competitions to sporting events.

“They learn so much mechanical and electrical design,” said Albany High School math teacher Andre Castagna. “They work as a team like running a business. Everyone is responsible for certain parts of the robot. They have to communicate and work as a team and coordinate so it all comes together.”

Every year, budding innovators are presented with new challenges and a similar goal: create a better robot. The 2018 competition has a video game theme. Form a three team alliance and accomplish certain tasks to defeat the boss.

“Our main goal is to excite students to STEM related technology and fields," said Shaker tech teacher Brian Ashline.

Students work with adult mentors over a six week period to design, build, program, and test their robots. And it's popular with the kids. This year, more than 1,000 students are competing, hoping to earn a spot at the international championships next month.

“We have two teams from Brazil and a number from Canada,” said Ana Martinez of FIRST Robotics.

“It’s an exciting, fun little stressful time because it’s competition,” added Genny Diehl.

Win or lose, participants still gain the confidence to think differently and to innovate. They're also eligible for more than $50 million in scholarships should the competition lead to a career.


WNYT Staff

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