CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Coastal Bend students pushed their STEM skills to the max during the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Tech Challenge” Gulf Coast League Championship held Jan. 21. The FIRST Tech Challenge allowed teams of students from grades 7-12 to build, program and operate robots of their design to compete with each other and score the most points.
“Students were incredibly passionate about the competition,” said Kristin De La Rosa, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi student volunteer. “I love that the FIRST Tech Challenge allows young students to be more involved with what they want to do in the future.”
The hand-made robots were challenged to pick up or push small and large balls across an obstacle course. Rounds were divided into an autonomous section, where robots were to act on their own with no direction from team members, and a remote controlled section, where teams piloted their robots to score as many points as possible. The collective points from both sections were tallied up as each team’s score.
“Teams, including their coaches, mentors and volunteers, were required to develop a strategy together and to build their robots based on sound engineering principles,” said Mayra Alvarado, Program Coordinator II in the College of Science and Engineering at A&M-Corpus Christi. “They also had to apply real-world math and science concepts, develop team-building and communication skills, as well as create a budget and fundraising plans in order to construct their robots.”
Two dozen teams participated in the challenge this year and each team had the opportunity to take home trophies based on their robot design, community outreach and other real-world accomplishments. Eight winning teams will advance to the Regional/State Championship in hopes of eventually competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship.
The advancing teams are:
The FIRST Tech Challenge Gulf Coast League Championship is a joint effort between the A&M-Corpus Christi Engineering Department, the FIRST Tech Challenge Gulf Coast Robotics League and the A&M-CC Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) student chapter.
“We would like to thank all of our event volunteers because without them, this event would not have been possible,” said Alvarado.