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Robots take over U of M sports arenas March 29-30

Thousands of students from Minnesota and surrounding states will descend upon Williams and Mariucci arenas for the FIRST Robotics Competition

March 26, 2013

Media note: Practice rounds on Thursday, March 28, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-4:30 p.m. are open to the media. Media may also interview students and mentors working on their robots in the pit areas. Media should check in at the registration table.

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/26/2013) -- Two arenas full of screaming fans and more than 120 high school teams from Minnesota and surrounding states are extending the Minnesota tournament frenzy another week at the Minnesota Regional FIRST Robotics Competitions 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday March 29-30 at the University of Minnesota’s Williams and Mariucci arenas. The championship matches are 1:30-4:30 p.m., Saturday, March 30, when there will be non-stop robot action. The event is free and open to the public.

The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering is one of the sponsors of the event.

Often called the "varsity sport for the mind," FIRST Robotics combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams are challenged to raise funds, design a team brand, improve teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s about as close to "real-world engineering" as a student can get. More than 50,000 high school students from around the world are part of FIRST Robotics Competition teams.

This year’s game, called "Ultimate Ascent," is a little like robotic Ultimate Frisbee with a twist. The object of the game is for the robot to score as many goals as possible during the match with standard flying discs. The higher the goal in which the disc is scored, the more points earned. The match ends with robots attempting to climb up pyramids located near the middle of the field. Each robot earns bonus points based on how high it climbs.

Two robot alliances, one red and one blue, composed of three teams each, compete in matches of two minutes and 15 seconds on a 27-by-54-foot field. The competing robots are up to 7 feet tall and weigh about 150 pounds.

The top teams from the competition will qualify for the National Competition April 24-27 in St. Louis and the Minnesota State Championship on May 18.

High school robotics has grown rapidly in the last decade in Minnesota. In 2006, there were just two teams in Minnesota. This year there are 180 teams, more than the number of high school hockey teams. This is the sixth year the University of Minnesota has hosted the regional high school robotics competition.

In addition to the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering, other major sponsors of the competition include Medtronic Inc., Boston Scientific, Pentair Foundation, 3M, Cummins, ARMY ROTC - 3rd Brigade, and PTC.

To watch a video simulation of this year’s game, visit http://z.umn.edu/first13

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The Minnesota Regional FIRST Robotics Competitions will be held March 30-31 at the University of Minnesota’s Williams and Mariucci arenas.

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