Crossroads FIRST Robotics Regional Fun, Excitment Coming Back to Campus in March 2014

Monday, September 23, 2013
Robots sits perched on top of stand. Man in black and white striped shirt stands in the background

Amazing Robots: Last year's Crossroads Regional had teams from seven states being challenged to create robots that could place discs on scoring towers throughout the competition playing field in Hulbert Arena of the Sports and Recreation Center.

Rose-Hulman will again host the premier international youth robotics competition when the FIRST Crossroads Regional returns to the college's Sports and Recreation Center on March 6-8, 2014.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) brings the excitement of a sporting event to science and technology through a robotics competition. Under tight guidelines, limited resources, and time limits, 45 teams of about 25 high-school students build and program robots from a common kit of parts to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. Teams measure the effectiveness of their robots and test the power of collaboration during the regional round of the competition.

The winning three-team alliance from the 2013 Crossroads Regional helped kickoff activities for the 2014 event by demonstrating their innovative robotics during halftime of Rose-Hulman's Homecoming football game on September 21. The Indiana teams came from Carmel, Indianapolis and West Lafayette.

Last year's challenge, Ultimate Ascent, had teams creating robots that worked autonomously and through wireless controls to toss Frisbees and climb towers scattered through a playing field that filled the Sports and Recreation Center's Hulbert Arena. The event attracted teams from seven states and more than 3,500 people attended the final round of the competition.

"The inaugural Crossroads Regional was an overwhelming success and far exceeded our expectations," says Crossroads Regional Chair Carlotta Berry, PhD, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rose-Hulman. "This year we want to do even bigger and better things as we welcome teams to compete in the sport of the mind that uses robots to inspire young people and celebrate engineering."

Robots take the floor in the gym. Large groups of people look on from the stands.
Attracted To Robots: The final rounds of the inaugural Crossroads Regional filled the Hulbert Arena of the Sports and Recreation Center with spectators, competitors, teachers, mentors, and family members.

As a judge at last year's regional, Rose-Hulman President James C. Conwell had a behind-the-scenes look at the event.

"There is nothing else like FIRST Robotics," Conwell remarks. "FIRST is an organization that shares common goals with Rose-Hulman-we both celebrate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). We want young people to know that STEM is cool and fun. Rose-Hulman is proud to encourage this by hosting this regional competition."

Teams are now registering to participate in the Crossroads Regional and will learn the competition's challenge early in 2014.

FIRST was founded by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders through innovation mentor-based programs. He was a surprise visitor to the 2013 Crossroads Regional and earned an honorary degree of engineering from Rose-Hulman in 2012.

"This is the sport of the future, and may be the hardest fun game that these kids have ever played," Kamen told the audience at last year's Crossroads Regional. "Rose-Hulman has become a true partner in my mission to help young people become scientists and engineers."

FIRST is supported by three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and offers more than $14 million in college scholarships annually. An independent study revealed that FIRST alumni are more than twice as likely to have a science- or technology-related career after college and more than three times as likely to pursue a career in engineering.