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2014 FIRST Tech Challenge Wisconsin State Championship Draws Hundreds

High school students from across the state and Minnesota gathered at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2014 for an exciting high-tech game competition involving robots designed and built with the help of professional mentors.

The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Wisconsin Championship took place in the UWM Student Union Ballroom involved 27 teams from Wisconsin and one from Minnesota – Team 4140, Fish in the Boat from Lakeville – which ultimately won the “Inspire” award. The winning alliance was led by Team 5972, Patronum Bots (East Troy High School) along with Team 4106, Supposable Thumbs (Heritage Christian Schools, Brookfield). All will compete at the FTC: North Super-Regional at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, April 3-5, 2014 with the hope of qualifying for the FTC World Championship, April 23-26, 2014 in St. Louis.

FTC is an intermediate robotics competition designed for 14- to 18-year-old high-school students that allows teams of up to 10 students working alongside mentors to apply real-world math and science concepts to solve an annual challenge. Students compete and cooperate in team alliances at a sport-type tournament aimed at combining fun with creating the next generation of technology leaders.

“We wholeheartedly supported this remarkable competition as it introduces students to the thrill of creative problem solving – a key element of engineering that can lead to tremendous success,” said Brett Peters, dean, UWM College of Engineering & Applied Science (CEAS). CEAS is the FTC Affiliate Partner for Wisconsin.

Dozens of Volunteers

More than 400 people – from seven-week-old babies to grandparents – watched the exciting matches, which also involved dozens of volunteers from UW-Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s engineering community.

According to FIRST planners, the object of the 2013-2014 game was to “score more points than an opponent by placing plastic blocks into pendulum goals. Teams will be challenged to raise their team alliance flag up a flagpole, raise their robots off the ground using a platform pull-up bar, and end the match with a balanced pendulum to earn extra points.”

The students designed, built and operated robots consisting of a combination of motors, controllers, wireless communications, metal gears, and sensors, including infrared tracking and magnet-seeking, on a specially designed field.

New Product Design

Additionally, on Friday evening, students, coaches, mentors and parents also attended an engaging and interactive presentation on new product design by UWM Business School faculty Mark Kosfeld and Anthony Ross. The professors discussed the important concepts of sourcing, production and logistics included in supply chain management at this event sponsored by Rockwell Automation. Students discovered how companies start with a product idea, develop a functional prototype and then scale up production to meet customer demand.

The tentative date for the 2015 FTC Wisconsin State Championship is February 6-7, 2015. FIRST will announce the challenge in September 2014.