January 28, 2015

Media Advisory – Robotics Competition

A robotics competition featuring 20 teams of junior high and high school students from five states will take place Saturday, Jan. 31, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Transportation Education Center at the Southern Illinois Airport. 

First Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics teams will compete against opponents where the goal is to place baseball and golf ball-sized whiffle balls into plastic cylinders of different heights. The First Tech Challenge program brings science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) principles together with innovation, creativity and competition. A synopsis of the competition and a video detailing game rules is available here. The non-profit FIRST, or “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” has a mission of motivating young people to pursue education and careers in STEM fields. 

After robot inspection and judging from 8 to 9:30 a.m., opening ceremonies start at 10 a.m. with comments from Susan M. Ford, acting provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. Matches are from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and from 1 to 3:15 p.m. Playoffs begin at 3:30 p.m., with awards presentation at 5 p.m. 

Organizers suggest that the best time for reporters, photographers and news crews will be between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and from 1 to 3 p.m. The competing teams are a mix of high school, home school, junior high, 4-H and community robotics clubs from Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee and Wisconsin. The teams will compete for a berth in the Illinois State FTC Championships at the Illinois Institute of Technology on Feb. 21, with a goal of reaching the FTC World Championships in St. Louis, April 22-25. 

Participants, event coordinators Sue and Joe Kunzeman of Decatur, Dan Green, the Illinois FIRST regional director, and several members of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts including Dean Andy Wang, Michael Behrmann, chair of the Department of Automotive Technology and Sam Chung, director of the School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies, will be available for interviews. The SIU Robotics Club, a student registered organization, is also heavily involved with providing student volunteers and arranging rides to the Transportation Education Center. 

For making pre-event arrangements, contact Sue Kunzeman at 217/855-4643.