President John J. Neuhauser will be a tournament judge for the 2012-2013 FIRST Tech Challenge Championship, a technology contest involving some 400 to 450 high school students from Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Michigan.
Thirty schools, including nine from Vermont including Essex Junction, Brattleboro, East Montpelier, Hinesburg, Springfield, Lyndon Center (two teams), Middlebury, and St. Albans, are sending teams to the robotics competition to be held at University of Vermont in the Dudley H. Davis Center on Saturday, Feb. 23, with a day-long schedule, from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., of inspections, judging, matches, semi- and final rounds, and awards. FIRST calls itself "the hardest challenge you'll ever have." The student competitors have been working for months to build robots that perform specified tasks.
"This is an exciting STEM event (the first of its kind in Vermont)," said professor of physics Alain Brizard, who is head judge for the event and has been working on it since June 2012. "And I am thrilled to see faculty and students (as well as our President) from Saint Michael's College playing such important roles as judges and referees."
The program, involving some 800 students, parents, teachers, judges and volunteers, is designed "to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology."
Pofessor Brizard arranged to bring the judges, including five IBM engineers, a founder of a microprocessor design firm, and two Saint Michael's College professors, associate professor of physics William (Sandy) Karstens and professor of computer science John Trono, along with President John Neuhauser.
Three Saint Michael’s students are also volunteering at the day-long event, Marco DiCaprio, a senior physics major from Queensbury, NY, Theresa Cicerone, a junior physics major from Dedham, MA, and Emily Patch, a senior physics major from Mendon, VT.
Their name is FIRST: "or inspiration and recognition of science and technology" and their theme is "to create a world where science and technology are celebrated... young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
According to the FIRST website, participating students get to:
- Design, build, and program robots
- Apply real-world math and science concepts
- Develop problem-solving, organizational, and team-building skills
- Compete and cooperate in alliances and tournaments
- Earn a place in the World Championship
- Qualify for over $10.4 million in college scholarships