First Tech Challenge brings robots, 1,300 people, to Coralville

Zach Berg, zberg@press-citizen.com11:03 p.m. CST March 6, 2016

A crowd of 1,300 people, and a collection of 72 robots, gathered Saturday in Coralville to take part in a statewide robotics competition.

The First Tech Challenge Iowa Championship, hosted inside the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, brought the teams from dozens of communities across Iowa on Friday and Saturday to compete in head-to-head competitions.

Rebecca Whittaker, Iowa Affiliate Partner for First Tech Challenge, said the competition featured robotics teams from high schools across Iowa. The teams had advanced from more than 200 First Tech Challenge teams across the state by winning smaller competitions throughout Iowa.

Each group, including the Center Point-Urbana High School team that calls itself High Voltage, designed a robot capable of competing head-to-head with other robots.

Matt Hearn, 14, of High Voltage, said his robot, named Sparky, had a remote-controlled arm and plow so it can push specified buttons, collect debris, deposit debris into containers and scale a metal mountain. Each completed task earns a team points. Whichever team gets the most points wins.

With dozens of matches held throughout the day, bleachers were added around the three rings inside the conference center’s main room. Hundreds of parents, siblings and friends cheered as though they were watching a sporting event.

“I want to go into the engineering field, so this is a fun way to do it,” Hearn said about why he joined High Voltage.

Read the entire story at: http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/2016/03/07/first-tech-challenge-brings-robots-1300-people-coralville/81377082/

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