Campus & Community

FIRST Robotics Comes to Stevens as High School Teams Battle in ‘Real-World Engineering’ Competition

On Saturday, June 14, 2014, Stevens hosted an off-season FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) for the first time on its Hoboken campus. The university welcomed student teams of approximately 100 students from 11 high schools around the Mid-Atlantic region:

Ossining High School (NY); St. Joseph’s High School (NJ); St. Joseph By-the-Sea High School (NY); East Harlem Tutorial Program (NY); Rahway High School (NJ); North Brunswick Township High School (NJ); Hillsborough High School (NJ); Hamilton High School West (NJ); William E. Grady Tech. High School (NY); Archbishop Wood High School (PA); and Trumansburg Central School District (NJ).

FRC is part of the international youth organization known as FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Founded in 1989 by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen, FIRST promotes young people's interest and participation in science and technology through accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. Along with FRC, FIRST operates FIRST LEGO League, Junior FIRST LEGO League, and FIRST Tech Challenge competitions.

FRC challenges student teams to build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors and hone valuable teamwork skills. The goal is for students to get a "real-world engineering" experience.

Participating high schools from East Harlem, North Brunswick and Hamilton came out on top as the “winning” teams. But the results of this off-season competition do not hold any significance in terms of advancing in the FIRST Robotics competition, which has already concluded earlier this year. The Stevens-hosted event was truly about combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology, and giving high school students the opportunity to learn and connect with professional engineers.

Dr. Frank Fisher, director of the mechanical engineering department at Stevens was on hand to judge the competition.  According to event coordinator Howard Cohen, Fisher left quite an impression on the students who had the chance to engage with the Stevens faculty member. “They loved talking to him,” said Cohen, a Stevens junior majoring in mechanical engineering.

Saturday’s event was a great success. The students loved the opportunity to visit Stevens, with some looking forward to applying to Stevens for undergraduate study.

“My kids loved the Stevens campus and were asking questions about majors and degree programs,” said Doug Albrecht, coach of the team from Ossining High School. “My team—adults and students—were very impressed with the organization and number of volunteers and how smooth everything ran.”

Cohen said he was amazed by how hard the students competed, displaying passion and determination under very trying circumstances. “They exemplified the FIRST values of graciousness and professionalism,” he said.

For more information about participating in next year’s FIRST Robotics event at Stevens, visit [email protected].