STEP Program Rises to Robotics Challenge 

Participation in the FIRST Tech Challenge encourages students to enroll in a challenging math or science course, and consider the possibility of attending college. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (February 9, 2016) – The UAlbany Science, Technology Entry Program (STEP) Robotics program recently built, designed, and tested their own robots at the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Tech Challenge.

STEP is designed to prepare historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged elementary and secondary school students with the aptitude and skills necessary to pursue post-secondary degree programs that lead to professional careers in the scientific, technical, health-related or other licensed professions.

The program also challenges parents and educators to become involved in the process to support the development of our “community of learners.” Students are expected to participate in and attend the annual statewide conference. As part of the annual competition, the teams strive for the World Championship and a chance to qualify for college scholarships.

Participation in the FIRST Tech Challenge encourages students to take more interest in school, enroll in a challenging math or science course, and consider the possibility of attending college.

This year’s FIRST statewide conference challenge, the FIRST® RES-QSm, was modeled after rescue situations faced by mountain explorers all over the globe. Each team had to develop a robot that would run and perform activities such as collecting debris, rescuing climbers, and parking on a mountain.

Team “P10neers

The UAlbany STEP team “P10neers” made their debut at the event. The rookie team gained experience participating in its first alliance-based tournament against other teams from various regions.

The students controlled their robots using standard game controllers, which were programmed using Java and operated through Android smart phones to perform all activities. With each undertaking, the teams received points that when tallied would qualify the top teams for the regionals.

The P10neers also experienced several unexpected equipment challenges. When other participants recognized this, their teams and parents assisted. After making adjustments with the additional support, the team was able to send its robot “Joe 1.0” on its first mission. The parents and families who attended the tournament, experienced the technology first hand from the pit, while engaging with others.

The team and their parents are already talking about next year’s event and have vowed to help motivate the “P10neers” to rise in future FTC Tech Challenges. Now that team members have completed the challenge, they will redesign their robot in preparation for the New York State STEP Robotics exhibition in March 2016.

For more information about the program, contact Mayra Santiago, Etwin Bowman, or Mac-Arthur Louis.

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