Pace hosts Hudson Valley FIRST Tech Challenge Tournament

The gym of the Goldstein Fitness Center, long accustomed to feats of athletic prowess, played host to a different sort of competition this past Sunday as 36 teams from across the region participated in the FIRST Tech Challenge Hudson Valley  Regional Tournament. Despite the cold weather hundreds made their way to the Pleasantville campus in support of the FIRST program.

FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is a robotics competition for students in grades 7-12. Each year a new game is announced and  students must build a robot using a kit of parts, and their own ingenuity, that is able to navigate the playing field and score maximum points. The 2012-2013 game was called “Ring It Up!”. The game, a robotic tic-tac-toe, consists of two alliances, each made up of two teams, competing to place as many rings as possible on a double sided 3×3 pegged PVC wall, earning more points if they are able to make a line across 3 pegs. They initially have a 30 second autonomous period, where using senor inputs the robots must maneuver themselves to accomplish the objective, and then a two minute controlled period where student drivers control the robots. If at the end of the game a robot is able to lift its alliance member onto itself then the team scores even more points.

The event started at 7:30 am with teams getting access to their “pits”, small areas given to each team to work on their robots. Once the teams were ready they had to have their robots undergo inspection and make sure it met all size, safety and component regulations. The opening ceremonies kicked off shortly after 10 am and the teams then played 45 qualifier matches to determine who would go onto the finals. Each team participated in 5 qualifying matches, each one with a different partner team.

After the 45 matches the top 4 teams are selected to be Captains, they then pick 2 other teams to join them in their alliance. The four captain teams were Team 5069 – The Robogamers from New York, NY, Team 4244 – Brobotics from Yorktown Heights, NY, Team 3951 – Suffern’s Reactors from Suffer High School in Suffern, NY and Team 4784 – Tetricons from Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows, NY. During these elimination rounds alliances play up to three rounds with the team winning two moving on.

The closing ceremonies were held at 5 pm after the last match and Alliance 4 led by Team 4784 – Tetricons won the day, joined by Team 5484 – Enderbots from Corning, NY and Team 5637 – Tech-Wise Guys from Brewster, NY. The win qualified Team 4784 – Tetricons for a spot in the national competition in St. Louis. The runner-ups were Alliance 3 led by Team 3951 – Suffern’s Reactors and joined by Team 3351 – Tater Bots from Mount Hope High School in Bristol, NY and Team 5602 – Bionic Gaels from Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers, NY.

Other teams were also recognized for their efforts in a variety of fields outside the game itself. Team 5477 – Innovo from George W Hewlett High School won the Promote Award for their FTC Public Service Announcement video and the Rockwell Collins Innovate award for most creative robot design solution. Team 5484 – Enderbots won the PTC Design award for best designed robot. Team 4326 – The Basement Lions from the Horace Mann School won the Motivate award for having the most team spirit and enthusiasm. Team 4183 – The Icebreakers sponsored by the Nassau Country Girl Scouts won the Connect award which is awarded to the team judges feel is mostly closely connected to their local community. Team 4082 – The RoboSpartans won the Think Award for having the best Engineering Notebook, a key reference for judges who look over the robots.

Finally The Inspire Award, given to the team that judges feel truly embodied the “challenge” of the FTC program and served as an example to other teams, went to Team 5069 – RoboGamers. Since they had already qualified for the national tournament in an earlier tournament their win allowed the first picked partner of the winning alliance to gain a spot at nationals, this was Team 5484 – Enderbots.
About 700 people attended the event with more than 100 students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends from the industry (many from IBM) coming together to help the event run smoothly. Over 25 Seidenberg majors, some returning for their third year such as graduate student Paat Sinsuwan, served as volunteers working in a variety of positions inspecting the student’s robots, judging games and helping to set up the game space. Recent graduate and founder of SpaceSplitter Jeremy Pease served as the head software inspector for the tournament. Pace students Daniel Rings and Patrick Pribyl served as the announcers for each match.

Former Dean of the Seidenberg School, Dr. Susan Merritt, said “I … stopped by and – having been to many of these over the years – found this year’s to be outstanding.   One thing that I noticed was that many more young women were engaged, than in the past.  A terrific improvement! Kudos to Bernice, Richard, and also our Seidenberg alums who are an important part of making if all happen!”

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), is a non-profit organization founded by noted inventor Dean Kamen for the purpose of exciting young people about pursuing college and careers in the STEM fields. Pace first began working with FIRST in 2004 when a robotics event for the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) was held at the Pleasantville campus. Pace is proud to continue supporting the program and hopes to see many of its alumni become alumni of our Seidenberg School.

For more information about FTC in the Hudson Valley be sure to like their Facebook page. For pictures from the event you can find a gallery here


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