Hundreds of students, and more than 50 robots, faced off in “the varsity Sport for the Mind™” at the fifth annual Smoky Mountains Regional FIRST Robotics competition. As in previous years, CNS employees volunteered as competition judges and as team coaches and mentors to help students design, program, and build a competition robot.
More than 50 teams from ten states took part in this year’s game, “Recycle Rush℠,” which required the robots to fill and stack plastic totes and recycling containers. The two‑day event brought several thousand people to the Knoxville Convention Center to watch the teams compete.
Employee volunteers and corporate donations helped seven local high school teams at Oak Ridge High School, Farragut High School, L&N STEM Academy, Hardin Valley Academy, Bearden High School, Gibbs High School and Roane County High School. CNS also contributed to TNFIRST for last week’s Regionals and is helping the Bushland Independent School District near Pantex start a robotics program and develop a mentor-protégé relationship with Y‑12 area schools.
“This is such a great program,” said John Gertsen, Uranium Mission Transformation, who gave one of the welcomes during the opening ceremony and volunteers as an L&N STEM Academy mentor. “I’m proud of these teams and proud of the sponsors and the volunteers who make it possible.”
Hardin Valley Academy took first in the Smoky Mountains Regionals, as well as winning the Excellence in Engineering Award sponsored by Delphi and the Industrial Safety Award sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories. Oak Ridge High School finished third and won the Regional Engineering Inspiration Award. Both teams move on to the world finals April 22–25 in St. Louis.
Other area high school teams winning awards included Bearden (Rookie All Star Award), Roane County (Creativity Award sponsored by Xerox), Farragut (Quality Award sponsored by Motorola) and L&N STEM Academy (Imagery award in honor of Jack Kamen). A video of the Smoky Mountains Regional competition can be viewed at tnfirst.org.