For the second consecutive year, the Convocation Center at California University of Pennsylvania was transformed to accommodate hundreds of high school students and their robots.
The Greater Pittsburgh Regional FIRST Robotics Competition returned to Cal U. Thursday, Friday and today. The competition was created in 1989 to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders. This year’s challenge is Recycle Rush. Teams score points by building robots that can stack totes, top the stacks with recycling containers and dispose of plastic pool noodles that represent litter.
Participating teams are given six weeks to construct a robot from a kit. Teams can add additional parts at their own expense. After the six weeks are over, student teams and their coaches are required to seal their creation in a bag until they arrive at the competition. The Cal U. competition ends today with the top three teams and two specialty winners moving on to finals in St. Louis, Mo., at the end of April.
Roughly 1,200 students from six states and Ontario, Canada, participated. One team, the Titanium Titans, represented Washington County. Wade Ogburn, a senior from Peters Township High School, has been a member of the team for the last three years.
“It’s been a great time for us and the building of the robot process has been the best experience for me,” Ogburn said.
Team mentor Mark Leng, an engineering manager with Aesynt in Cranberry, said much of what the students do translates into the real world.
“As an engineering manager, I have engineers who work for me that are doing a lot of the same things these kids are doing,” he said. “These students have something that will carry them beyond college into their careers.”