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Junior high and high school students gathered in the Swenson Gymnasium on Feb. 23 to participate in the 2019 FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition.

Hosted by Weber State University’s College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology, the event challenged students grades seven through 12 to design, build, program and code robots.

A total of 36 teams from Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming competed for two spots to move head to the FIRST world Championship in Houston, Texas. The event sold out to a total of 820 people including families, friends, students, volunteers and faculty members.

“It’s exciting to bring all these students here, but it’s also great that as a community, we can provide this service to our university,” said Dana Dellinger, director of the Center for Technology Outreach.

This year’s theme was “Rover Ruckus” and centered on the idea of using autonomous robots to explore other planets.

Teams participating in the competition performed certain tasks before switching alliances and competing against one another, encouraging a collaborative and competitive atmosphere.

During the autonomous period, the robots operated using only pre-programmed instructions and sensor input before they moved to the the driver-control period.

Alliances earned points by placing minerals into their cargo holds. The more minerals that each team collected, the more points they earned.

Park City’s Checkmates won the competition and received the Inspire Award, which is a strong ambassador for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology programs. They will move on to compete at the world’s competition.

“It’s fantastic to see them working together and everyone brings their own skill set to a project,” said David Ferro, the dean of the College of Engineering, Applied Science and Technology.

“What makes FIRST stand out is that it’s a very holistic approach,” Dellinger said. “It’s not just about being the best coder or designer. It’s about being a person who can work with others and treat each other well with respect.”

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