Southeast Hosting High School Robotics Tournament Jan. 22 at Arena Building

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Jan.  10, 2011 — Southeast Missouri State University will once again host the Cape Girardeau Regional FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Jan. 22 at the A.C. Brase Arena Building in Cape Girardeau.

Last year, Southeast Missouri State University hosted a FIRST robotics competition for the area that ultimately sent local teams to the FIRST World Championship. Southeast hopes to follow up on that success by once again hosting the Cape Girardeau Regional FTC qualifier from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 22 in the Arena Building.

The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is a competition in which teams of high school students spend months putting together and programming robots to compete in a basketball-like competition against other teams. While only the second year in the area, this competition and FIRST — the organization that oversees the contest — have been around for a while in the St. Louis area. In fact, this year the Cape Girardeau competition is one of 45 taking part in four countries with more than 10,000 students participating. This year, the ultimate goal for teams is to make it to the World Championship, which will take place for the first time in St. Louis.

The local FTC competition is the result of a partnership between the WIRED Initiative and faculty from Southeast Missouri State University. This group helped 22 local teams compete last year and added another five in the current year. Thirty-four teams, including local teams, teams from the St. Louis area, other parts of Missouri, and out-of-state will compete in Cape Girardeau.

Volunteers play a major role in the FIRST organization with more than 90,000 worldwide. Volunteers for the local competition are needed to ensure the competition is successful, said Brad Deken, Southeast instructor of industrial and engineering technology. Volunteers do not need any special skills, he said. Anyone interested in technology or in local schools and students would be a great volunteer, he said. There are many volunteer positions that cover a broad spectrum of responsibilities, including inspectors, referees, announcers, photographers and various other workers, he said. Those who are interested or have questions about volunteering at the Jan. 22 competition in Cape Girardeau should contact Deken at (573) 651-2659 or bdeken@semo.edu.

The competition is open to the public and will provide an arena for spectators to see what local schools can do in the area of robotics, Deken said. The morning hours are typically filled with inspections and last minute modifications to the robots. The actual matches begin about noon. Each match involves two alliances, each consisting of two robots from two different teams. There will be about 36 of these five-minute matches, he said.

For more information about the competition, contact Deken at (573) 651-2659 or bdeken@semo.edu. More information can also be found at http://cstl-pti.semo.edu/bdeken/ftc/public/.