First robotics

(ADRIANA GROISMAN PHOTO)

Students position their robot for the start of the next match.

FORT WAYNE — Over the past twenty years, the Purdue University Fort Wayne College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science managed and facilitated the Indiana FIRST LEGO League robotics competition network as part of the College’s Outreach Program. Carol Dostal, Outreach Director, worked closely with partners around the state, to grow the program which impacts more than 3000 students, volunteers, and mentors annually.

FIRST Indiana Robotics (FIN), under the leadership of President Renee Becker-Blau and Program Director Chris Osborne, as of October 1st, is collaborating jointly with Purdue Fort Wayne’s FIRST LEGO League Challenge Program Delivery Partner, Carol Dostal, to deliver the FIRST LEGO League Challenge program to Indiana teams through the end of 2020. Purdue Fort Wayne will conclude its official 20 year role as the program leader for FIRST LEGO League Challenge in December, and as of January 1, 2021, FIN will exclusively assume the role of Program Delivery Partner for the FIRST LEGO League Challenge program thereafter.

Carol Dostal, who became the Indiana FIRST LEGO League Program Delivery Partner in 2003 coordinated the state championship and led the FIRST LEGO League Challenge program as part of the college’s ongoing commitment to encourage youth to build STEM skills and explore related careers. Purdue Fort Wayne will continue involvement in FIRST LEGO League and plans to expand their support for other FIRST programs. The leadership transition with FIRST in Indiana Robotics will provide increased opportunity to consolidate and grow all FIRST programming for the state. The FIRST LEGO League Challenge program has grown to support nearly 300 teams,13 Qualifying Tournaments, and 2 Regional Championships.

This season has seen a shift to all-remote tournaments, and in an effort to provide an opportunity for as many teams as possible to participate in the FIRST LEGO League Challenge program this year, the tournament experience will be split into two sessions. Session 1 Qualifying Tournaments will culminate with a Purdue Fort Wayne Indiana Championship on Dec. 12. Session 2 Qualifying Tournaments will culminate with a FIRST Indiana Robotics State Championship in February 2021.

FIRST LEGO League would not be here today without the amazing commitment of the Purdue University Fort Wayne College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science, their Outreach staff led by Carol Dostal, and many dedicated volunteers.

FIRST is tackling the trend of declining enrollment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs by using a competition sports style model that makes STEM learning fun and inspiring for students. Some have questioned if something “fun” can be an effective tool to change peoples lives but initial data from a three year study by FIRST® on students in their first year of college indicates that FIRST’s® positive impacts continue into post secondary education, with FIRST® alumni continuing to show impacts on STEM-related attitudes, as well as impacts on interest in engineering and technology-related majors, engineering course-taking, and STEM-related internships and summer jobs. Results to date indicate that FIRST ® is already making a lasting difference in career interests and educational choices for the young people who participate in the program. So students can learn and have fun at the same time! See the full study results at https://www.firstinspires.org/about/impact.

This competition is part of the larger organization, FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), and their FIRST® Robotics Competition for high school students. Over 3,600 teams, more than 91,000 students, and nearly 26,000 professional mentors across the world from 27 countries (including places like Canada, Mexico, China, Israel, and Australia), will be participating in District, Regional, and State-level events in hopes of qualifying for the 2020 FIRST World Championship in Detroit, MI. and Houston, TX.

In addition to teacher mentors, volunteer professional mentors lend their time and expertise to help guide the work and development by each FIRST robotics team. For more information about this event, or FIRST Robotics, please contact: Renee Becker-Blau, IndianaFIRST Executive Director, at 414 704-1415. Additional information is also available at the website: http://www.indianafirst.org/ or http://www.firstinspires.org/.

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