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College to host high school robotics kickoff

Augustana College will host the FIRST Tech Challenge Kickoff for Western Illinois and Eastern Iowa  Sept. 10.

The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is a global robotics competition to engage high school students in STEM. More than 20,000 students around the world design and build robots to engage in head-to-head competitions and to earn a chance to compete at the annual FTC World Championship.

Kickoff is the first event of the FTC season, offering the opportunity to see the game reveal, network with other FTC teams and strategize about the new season.

The Western Illinois and Eastern Iowa FTC Kickoff at Augustana includes sessions on robot design strategy and autonomous programming as well as a coaches’ roundtable discussion.

Dr. Lee Carkner, Augustana professor of physics will give the keynote address, "A New View of the Universe: First Light with the James Webb Space Telescope," at 10:30 a.m. before the game reveal video is broadcast in the Olin Center auditorium.

In addition to the FTC program, visiting students may view a planetarium show and join a tour of Augustana STEM facilities with Dr. Nathan Frank, associate professor of physics at Augustana.

“We’re excited to give back to the community by hosting the FIRST robotics competition on campus for the first time,” said Dr. Frank. “We’re excited to see all these young people and their excitement for robotics and STEM in general. We look forward to giving them a chance to see a college that has state-of-art programs in engineering and physics."

Also on Sept. 10, FTC Kickoff events will be held in Naperville, Edwardsville and Peoria. There is also an online option.

FIRST Tech Challenge teams are comprised of about 10 students in grades 7-12 who use a modular robotics platform to conceive, build and compete in a FIRST-designed game. Students are assisted by coaches, mentors and volunteers to develop strategies and build robots based on sound engineering principles.

Award categories include robot performance, community outreach, robot design and other real-world accomplishments. FIRST Tech Challenge Teams can qualify for more than $26 million in college scholarships.


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