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Youth Robotics Programs recognized with Oregon Governor’s Volunteer Award

Contacts: 

Bruce Schafer,
Director, OUS Industry Affairs;
Office: 503-725-2915; Cell: 503-332-4666 

Deb Mumm-Hill,
Regional Director, FIRST,
Cell: 503-715-6365 

November 8, 2012: The Oregon University System (OUS) is delighted to announce that Oregon’s FIRST® Robotics (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) programs have been selected for an Oregon Governor’s Volunteer Award. The annual Oregon Governor's Volunteer Awards, presented by the Oregon Volunteers Commission for Voluntary Action & Service, will be held on Friday, November 9th and will honor twelve organizations and fourteen individuals who do extraordinary things and also inspire and motivate future volunteerism. 

Oregon’s four FIRST Robotics programs are Junior FIRST LEGO League, FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition. These programs span grades 1 to 12 and provide opportunities for young people across the state to use robotics as a way of learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and begin to think about what they want to do after they graduate from high school. 

Three of the programs are coordinated by the Oregon University System under the name Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program (ORTOP). Thanks to incredible volunteer spirit as well as generous sponsors and partners, Oregon boasts one of the largest youth robotics programs in the country, now serving over 4,000 students in teams across Oregon. 

Oregon companies and industry associations help recruit volunteers and provide sponsorship dollars that underwrite tournaments and team scholarships. FIRST relies on thousands of industry and community volunteers to mentor and coach 6-18 year olds through the challenging but fun task of designing, building, and programming robots for team competition. The robotics teams compete at local, regional, national and even international tournaments and in many schools and communities the teams are celebrated on par with athletics. In the team process, the students learn not only technology but also life-long skills such as communication, team work, and leadership. 

Bruce Schafer, director of Industry Affairs for the Oregon University System and Deb Mumm-Hill of FIRST said, “On behalf of the thousands of volunteers that serve as coaches, mentors, judges, referees and many other roles, we are honored and delighted to receive news of the award. We are grateful for the many days and weeks that our volunteers devote to the robotics programs to help student teams experience the fun and rewarding challenges of technology and engineering.” 

As just one example of the positive impact of this program, the Oregon Volunteers announcement quoted Umatilla School District Superintendent Heidi Sipe who reported that after three months on the robotics team, students affiliated with gangs no longer had Facebook postings with gang symbols or references to drugs, but instead had postings about robots. Sipe described Oregon FIRST® Robotics as, “Robotics, changing lives!” 

For more information on Oregon FIRST Robotics go to www.oregonfirst.org and for ORTOP, go to www.ortop.org. 

ORTOP is a program of the Oregon University System with a mission is to open doors to the worlds of science and technology for Oregon’s youth, by delivering the FIRST programs to 6- to 18-year-old youngsters, with a focus on reaching underserved student populations. ORTOP implements Jr. FIRST LEGO League (Jr. FLL), FIRST LEGO League (FLL), and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). 

FIRST- For Inspiration and Recognition of Science & Technology is an international non-profit organization located in Manchester, NH, which organizes an annual network of robotics tournaments under the names FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), FIRST LEGO League (FLL) and Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr.FLL). FIRST focuses on promoting science and technology to young people. 

Oregon Volunteers is the Oregon Commission for Voluntary Action & Service. The mission of Oregon Volunteers is to promote and support AmeriCorps, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), volunteerism, and civic engagement to strengthen Oregon communities. 

-OUS- 

Oregon University System (OUS) comprises seven distinguished public universities, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning. For additional information, go to www.ous.edu.