MARCH 21, 2011 -- An alliance of high school robotics teams from Hazelwood Central High School (Robohawks), University City High School (Robo-Lions) and Camdenton High School 4-H (LASER) won the St. Louis FIRST Robotics Regional Championship competition held this weekend in St. Louis at the Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis University. They will be competing in the championships in St. Louis next month.
More than 500 high school students representing nearly 50 high schools from across the St. Louis metro region and four states had the chance to meet Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway® human transporter and the insulin pump used by diabetics among many other inventions, at the 10th annual St. Louis Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. Kamen is the founder of the FIRST competition, which is in its 20th season and has grown to have teams in 48 states and 61 countries. The international championships will be held in St. Louis next month and is expected to draw more than 22,000 visitors to the area for the competition April 27-30 at the America's Center and Edward Jones Dome. The championships are open to the public.
In second place was an alliance including the Gateway Institute of Technology and St. Louis Public Schools (Perpetual Chaos), Wentzville Holt and Timberland High Schools (Ratchet Rockers) and the Metal Storm team from the Saint Louis Science Center YES Teens Program and University of Missouri Extension.
The prestigious Chairman's Award was presented to the Channel Cats team from St. Charles County. The team's mentor, Ralph Lambert, was named the St. Louis Regional Woodie Flowers Award Finalist. The award recognizes mentors who lead, inspire and empower using excellent communication skills.
"FIRST is the ultimate varsity sport for the twenty-first century," said Kamen. "Every kid is a winner in FIRST. It's the only sport in the world where very kid can turn pro," Kamen explained. "In most sports, winning is everything—with FIRST, you learn a skill set that you'll use your whole life," he added.
The teams of high school students worked with professional mentors to design and build a robot in just six short weeks. More than 2,000 teams participate in the FIRST Robotics competitions across the U.S. This season, participating FIRST students are eligible to apply for over 14 million dollars in scholarships from leading universities, colleges and companies. Scholarship announcements will be made at the FIRST Championship in April.
More than 60 corporations, individuals, media partners, colleges and universities and non-profit organizations sponsored the St. Louis Regional. This is the tenth year for the local competition, and this weekend's regional winners advance to the finals in St. Louis, April 27-30 at the Edward Jones Dome and America's Center along with teams from across America and several foreign countries. More than 22,000 visitors are expected to attend the events. St. Louis will host the FIRST championships next year continuing through the 2013 competition.
Photos of the St. Louis FIRST Robotics Regional Championship are courtesy of the Saint Louis Science Center.