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Houston-based Pilgrim Academy wins annual UTSA robotics competition
(March 30, 2010)--Amidst loud rock music, cheering parents and high emotions, a three-student team from Pilgrim Academy in Houston emerged victorious at the 2010 Getting Excited About Robots (GEAR) Competition Saturday, March 27 at the UTSA Convocation Center. Sponsored by the AT&T Foundation and hosted by the Interactive Technology Experience Center (iTEC) in the UTSA College of Engineering the competition featured nearly 600 third through eighth graders divided into 117 teams, making GEAR the largest all-American robotics competition for children in the nation.
The GEAR 2010 game, "Up and Atom," was based on the Hadron Collider, a sophisticated tool used to research atoms, their structure and the development of new materials. Using balls, washers, magnets and switches on a four by eight-foot obstacle course-style playing field, competitors' robots injected "ions" and removed "protons" from plasma flow containers, retrieved "top quarks" and removed defective magnets.
Three seeding rounds narrowed the field from 117 teams to 16. Then, the 16 semi-finalist teams were whittled down to four. The final four included Discovery First from the School of Science & Technology Discovery in San Antonio, TMI Robotics Club from The Episcopal School of Texas in San Antonio and Triangulators from Boerne Middle School. But in the end, the finalist team from Pilgrim Academy emerged victorious.
"Engineers turn imagination and dreams into reality," said Mauli Agrawal, dean of the UTSA College of Engineering, to participants at the competition's closing award ceremony. "In 1961, President John F. Kennedy said, 'We're going to put a man on the moon.' People thought we couldn't do it. But guess what? Engineers delivered. You are all very talented. Work hard in your science and math classes, and you, too, will grow up to be scientists and engineers."
Founded by Robert Acosta, GEAR offers young students a fun opportunity to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics while growing their creativity, teamwork and problem solving skills. Although UTSA has hosted GEAR for four years, the 2010 competition was the first to be hosted by iTEC with the support of a $1.5 million grant from the AT&T Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AT&T Inc.
"We are proud of our support of iTEC and thrilled to see an increased interest in the fields of engineering and science, and the students' connection between education and their best future," said Michelle Thomas, AT&T assistant vice president - external affairs.
About the UTSA Interactive Technology Experience Center (iTEC)
Housed in the UTSA College of Engineering, iTEC is a four-year project that began in 2007 with a $1.5 million grant provided by the AT&T Foundation. The iTEC mission is to inspire youth by creating an environment where they can understand how engineering, science and technology shape our lives and the future of our world. The center's areas of thrust include robotics, telecommunications, scanning electron microscope applications and design for manufacturing.
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