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Union Team Awarded at Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League 2009 Championship Tournaments

Contact:

Source: Bruce Schafer, Director, OUS Industry Affairs; Office: 503-725-2915; Cell: 503-332-4666
Contact: Cathy Swider, Project Administrator, OUS; Office: 503-725-2920; Cell: 971-219-1020

Portland, OR, January 21, 2010: The Oregon University System (OUS) is pleased to announce that a local Union High School team was awarded for ingenuity at the Intel Oregon FIRST LEGO League 2009 Championship Tournaments, presented by Rockwell Collins were on January 16-17, 2010 at Liberty High School in Hillsboro. Third place in the RadiSys Robot Design Award went to the “Gearheads” from Union High School.

The statewide competition brought together 120 winning teams to compete with their custom-made robots in two-day of competition focused on transportation, or “Smart Moves.”  In December 2009, 320 teams and more than 2,000 students participated in qualifying tournaments in Oregon and SW Washington, and the top-performing 30% from these events participated in this past weekend’s championships. 

For the Robot Design award, judges look for teams whose work stands out for its innovation, dependability, or both. To assess innovation, the judges watched the robots work and review the team’s programming, looking for things that make them say "Wow!", and they interview team members to reveal the less obvious unique and inventive ideas. To assess dependability, the judges interviewed the teams to learn what solid principles and best practices were used to reduce variability and errors.  The panel of judges looked for the best combination of innovation, consistency, and great programming. The “Gearheads” team includes Cory Andrews, Riley Sheehy, and Stephanie Banyard, and they are coached by Greg Poor and Steve Sheehy.

Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program (ORTOP) offers the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) pre-engineering program to help young students begin exploring technical careers at an early age to meet high-tech industry and economic needs. Oregon technology corporations and industry associations collaborate with the OUS, hundreds of volunteers, and major youth organizations to implement the program. Oregon boasts the largest participation per capita in FIRST LEGO Robotics programs in the nation. This weekend’s tournaments showed a great diversity of teams, including girls and boys from home-schools, public schools, private schools, and communities from rural and urban areas across the state and surrounding region.

”Intel enthusiastically supports the FIRST LEGO League program because we are convinced that it stimulates continuing interest in math and science among young people, and talent in those areas is critical to the future success of Intel, Oregon and the national economy,” said Jill Eiland, Northwest region corporate affairs manager for Intel Corporation, the title sponsor of the event.

Each year FLL defines a challenge that drives team activities. In this year's Smart Moves challenge, the 2008 FIRST LEGO League teams embarked on an exploration of transportation, researching how people, places, goods, and services travel in the safest, most streamlined ways possible. Each team researches one mode of transportation, identifying its challenges and possible technical solutions Each team is made up students ages 9-14 who are given about 12 weeks to prepare for the tournament, including construction, design, and programming of the robot, and completion of the required scientific research. The teams used off-the-shelf LEGO robotics kits to construct ingenious working robots, which complete as many missions as possible on a 4-foot by 8-foot playing field. The teams also present research projects addressing modes of transportation, discuss technical aspects of their research with judges, and show their ever-important teamwork skills. The weekend tournaments were valuable not only for the teams participants, but also for families who came to watch and admire the ingenious robots built and programmed by the top 9-14 year olds, and to participate in fun hands-on robotics activities for viewers sponsored by Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). 

Bruce Schafer, director of industry affairs for OUS, said, “Many congratulations to the winning teams and all participating teams in this year’s tournament, who have clearly shown us they will be tomorrow’s engineers and innovators. Also, many thanks to Intel and all of our corporate and community sponsors and volunteers who are integral to supporting this valuable and rewarding educational program.”

ORTOP thanks its generous sponsors for this event, including Intel Oregon, the title sponsor; Rockwell Collins, the presenting sponsor; RadiSys and TechAmerica, platinum sponsors; Bonneville Power Administration and Performance Health Technology, gold sponsors;  ESCO, IBM, and ONAMI (Oregon Nanoscience & Microtechnologies Institute), silver sponsors; as well as all its supporting community sponsors and volunteers.  This year 20% of our teams received a scholarship to help them get started or to continue their participation. The $25,000 in scholarships was funded by our sponsors, and several scholarships were made possible by a special grant from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust.

For more information on the program go to: www.ortop.org.

 

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