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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Malloy: Education Will Make CT World Competitive

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By Helen Klisser During

UPDATE Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told students at a robotics competition in Westport today that they are the future and that Connecticut is making major investments in education to ensure they and the state are ready to compete in the world.

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy greets the Wrecker Robotics team today at Greens Farms Academy. The team went on to win top prize. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

“For those of you who live in Connecticut, you live in a state which is prepared to substantially increase its investment in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education on a pre-K through 12 basis and through our college and university system,” Malloy told robotics teams from the metropolitan area at Greens Farms Academy.

At day’s end, it was the Wrecker Robotics team from Westport’s Staples High School that took top honors. The team is not an official school team and is privately funded.

“We are making a massive investment in our state university system so that we can compete not just with 49 other states but with every nation in the world,” the governor said. “And this is a competition that we have to win as you struggle today to win your competition.”

Malloy said a few weeks ago, his administration outlined a proposal at the University of Connecticut to increase STEM graduation by 47 percent and in the engineering program specifically by 70 percent.

“To you young people who have taken some time out of your school year to do this, this is going to pay off,” the governor said. “This is what the future looks like and this is what your future looks like.”

In their remarks, Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff recalled that as a youngsters growing up in this area, robots were something to be read about in science fiction.

“But now this is the new norm,” Joseloff said.

This is the first year that Greens Farms Academy has hosted the event. Twenty-eight teams of about 280 seventh grade through high school youngsters competed in the Northeast Utilities Foundation Connecticut FIRST Tech Challenge, a robotics competition dubbed Battle @ The Beach.

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy addresses today’s robotics competition at Greens Farms Academy. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

Westport was represented by three teams. In addition to the Wrecker Robotics, also taking part were the Minuteman Robotics (Staples and middle school students), and Dragonoids (Greens Farms Academy).

The Wrecker Robotics team also won the second place Inspire Award and the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award which “celebrates the team that not only thinks outside the box but also has ingenuity and inventiveness in their design solution,” according to a competition program.

“We had a great day,” said Alec Solder, 16, co-captain. “We achieved what we set out to do and look forward to the challenge ahead at the world championship.”

Added Troy Fantini, 17, co-captain: “It was a prime example of how when you work hard at something you can achieve it.”

Today’s triumph followed a first place finish last weekend at a qualifier competition at North Andover High School in Massachusetts. Before going on to the world championship in St. Louis in April, the team is also scheduled to compete in contests in Vermont on Feb. 23 and New York City on March 8.

The students competed in a game called Ring It Up. They used a a combination of motors, controllers, wireless communications, metal gears, and sensors to program their robots to operate in both autonomous and driver-controlled modes on a field with a center rack.

The object of the game is to score more points than an opponent by placing plastic rings on to pegs on the rack.

The competition is sponsored by Manchester, N.H.-based FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.

List of Winners:

Motivate Award - Team 5017, RoboEpic from Greenwich, CT
Connect Award - Team 4220, Landroids from Livingston, NJ
Rockwell Collins Innovate Award - Team 577, Wreckers from Westport, CT
PTC Design Award - Team 5357, CCRC from Waterbury, CT
Think Award - Team 18, Techno Chix from Pound Ridge, NY
Promote Award - Team 36, Wyverns from West Hartford, CT
Judge’s Award - Best Pit - Team 4286, Dragonoids from Westport, CT
Judge’s Award - Interview and Implementation - Team 5873, Dragon Terminators from Old Greenwich, CT
Judge’s Award - Safety Award - Team 273, Tigers from West Hartford, CT
Judge’s Award - Up and Coming Award - Team 6762, NRG (Northwestern Robotics Gearheads) from Winsted, CT
Finalist Alliance - Teams 5873, 5602, and 4780
Winning Alliance - Teams 4220, 3539, 577
Inspire Award - Team 4554, Robo Mustangs from Putnam, CT

Posted 02/16 at 04:42 PM

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