Gatorbot Orange and Teckadon win annual UTSA robotics competition

LEGO robot

LEGO robot photo from Mario Ferrari's Personal Web Pages

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(April 20, 2012) -- An elementary school student team from Aue Elementary and a middle school student team from a San Antonio-based home school were declared the winners at the 2012 Getting Excited About Robotics (GEAR) Competition Saturday, March 31 at the UTSA Convocation Center. Sponsored by Long John Silver's, Time Warner Cable, Valero Energy Corp., Lewis Energy and BP, the event was hosted by the Interactive Technology Experience Center (iTEC) in the UTSA College of Engineering.

The competition featured third through eighth graders divided into 119 teams, making GEAR one of the largest robotics competitions for children in the nation.

This year's event, "Power Up," challenged children to maintain the energy infrastructure of Energy Inc., a fictitious company created for the competition. Energy Inc. employees (competitors) worked with different sources of energy from traditional fossil fuels to green alternatives such as wind and hydroelectric energy. Students built and programmed robots using LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT robotics kits to complete their specific tasks at Energy Inc.

Two seeding rounds narrowed the field from 119 teams to 16. Then, the 16 semi-finalist teams were whittled down to eight and then to four. The final four in the elementary school division included three teams from Aue Elementary and a team from Roosevelt Elementary.

The final four in the middle school division included a home school team from San Antonio, a home school team from Boerne, TMI and Our Lady of Grace. But in the end, the finalist teams, Gatorbot Orange from Aue Elementary and Teckadon from the San Antonio-based home school team emerged victorious.

"GEAR not only allows students to make practical applications of what they learn in the classroom, but it is also fun," said Mauli Agrawal, dean of the UTSA College of Engineering. "The competitive spirit and talent of these future engineers was evident and we are so thankful for our sponsors who see the importance of getting the next generation excited about STEM."

iTEC's mission is to inspire youth by creating an environment where they can understand how engineering, science, mathematics and technology shape our lives and the future of our world. The center's focus areas include robotics, alternative energy, manufacturing, space science, aeronautics, environmental science, geology and forensics.