On April 7 through 9, staff and students of ECPI University in Richmond, Virginia gathered at the Stuart C. Siegel Center to support local high school students participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) through VirginiaFIRST. VirginiaFIRST is the local affiliate of the international non-profit mentoring organization, FIRST, that was created to excite young people about science and technology, prepare today’s students to enter the advanced technology-based workplace of tomorrow, and provide them with life skills that will prove valuable in the future.
As a member of the Greater Richmond Technology Council, RichTech, Kenton Scearce, Regional Director of Graduate Services, was approached to support the event on behalf of ECPI. “ECPI sponsors the morning breakfasts for the business community which included over sixty representatives from the information technology sector. We also provided a cyber-center on Technology Row in which participants and visitors can access and use the computers we provided,” explained Kenton. Pattie Cook, Executive Director of VirginiaFIRST, said “the cyber-center was exceptionally helpful in leveling the playing field for students. Many students from rural or inner city schools do not have the luxury of portable computers. ECPI made it so that everyone had access to a computer and the internet when needed over the course of the event.”
“In addition to our monetary and in-kind contribution,” said Nina McCord, Director of Freshman Recruitment, “our staff provided mentor support to the local teams and our students volunteered to set-up for the event.”
FRC is recognized as the premier high school engineering challenge. Teams of students, working closely with teachers and volunteer mentors, have six weeks to conceptualize, design, build, program, modify and test a robot to participate in a competition that changes each year. Following the six-week design and build phase, teams enter regional competitions, like the one in Richmond where more than 60 teams tested their skills for a chance to advance to the world championship.