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MTSU mechatronics engineering faculty member Tony Saavedra, left, Engineering Technology Chair Ken Currie and mechatronics student Antonious Hanna watch as members of the Nerdettes FTC team from Owens Cross Roads, Ala., compete in the recent Tennessee FIRST Tech Challenge robotics event in Alumni Memorial Gym. The Nerdettes earned the Connect Award bestowed by judges. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Tech-Savvy Teens Turn MTSU Into Robot World

Talented, tech-savvy and energetic teenagers from around the country descended on MTSU recently for the annual Tennessee FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition.

By the event’s end, TechNova, a team from Bellevue, Washington, claimed first place and earned the coveted Inspire Award in the competition held in Alumni Memorial Gym and supported by MTSU’s Engineering Technology and mechatronics engineering faculty and students.

Kyle Di Tieri, coach of The Baylor School’s Ohm Raiders team from Chattanooga, Tenn., gives his group a thumbs up during the recent Tennessee FIRST Tech Challenge robotics event held in MTSU’s Alumni Memorial Gym. Ohm Raiders earned the Finalist Alliance Award and was runner-up for the Think Award. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

The Winning Alliance division runner-up was the Browncoats from Huntsville, Alabama, with Electric Wave of Memphis, Tennessee, third.

In the competition, participants in grades 7 through 12 design, build, program and operate robots in head-to-head competition. Teams compete in three divisions (programs), trying to earn a berth in the nationals.

“Oh, yeah, they got super excited, especially in the match competition,” said Ken Currie, Engineering Technology chair, discussing the noise generated by the teens.

Members from at least two of the 25 teams competing in the Tennessee FIRST Tech Challenge in MTSU’s Alumni Memorial Gym cheer on their teammates during the robotics competition. The event once again was hosted by MTSU Engineering Technology. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Currie was pleased with the turnout of student and faculty volunteers — some serving as judges — and the recruiting aspect, with participants being on campus and receiving information about engineering programs and a variety of swag items such as sunglasses, pencils and more, featuring ET logos.

“What an outstanding day we had,” said competition co-director Nick Pasquerilla, a volunteer who works for Schneider Electric. He acknowledged the volunteer support and sponsors, including Qualcomm, the presenting sponsor, and Collins Aerospace, the official program sponsor.

Currie, who praised MTSU Event Coordination and Production Services for their assistance, looks forward to the event returning to MTSU in 2023.

Other winners:

  • Judges’ Choice Award— 1. SHARP, Spring Hill, Tennessee.
  • Design Award —1. Root Negative One, Springdale, Arkansas; 2. Small Town Robotics, Shelbyville, Tennessee.
  • Motivate Award —1. Lady Bots, St. Cecilia Academy, Nashville, Tennessee; 2. Magnetude Black, Murfreesboro.
  • Control Award sponsored by Arm Inc. —1. RM’d and Dangerous, Rockville, Maryland; 2. Warriors, Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • Innovate Award sponsored by Raytheon Technologies —1. IrRaTiONAl, Lexington, Massachusetts; 2. MUS Robotics, Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Connect Award —1. Nerdettes FTC, Owens Cross Roads, Alabama; 2. Wings of Steel, Fort Campbell, Kentucky
  • Think Award —1. Browncoats, Huntsville, Alabama; 2. Ohn Raiders, The Baylor School Robotics, Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  • Finalist Alliance —1. Ohm Raiders, The Baylor School, Chattanooga; 2. Small Town Robotics, Shelbyville; 3. Lynx Robotics, Memphis, Tennessee.
  • Dean’s List Finalists —Tobias Ringheimer, 4-H Gear Grinders, Chattanooga.