Springdale's FIRST Robotics Team Head to World Championships

 The Springdale High School GearHogs recently competed against 52 teams at the Midwest Regional FIRST Robotics competition. The GearHogs, whose mentors include industrial engineering assistant professor Chase Rainwater and College of Engineering graduate Scott Turley, were awarded the Rookie All-Star Award for the Midwest Region and were invited to compete in the World Championships in St. Louis, Mo., April 27-30.

The GearHogs team is comprised of Springdale High School students and led by faculty members Claire Small, Scott Winfrey and Todd Taylor. To prepare for the competition, the team was given six weeks to design and build a robot according to the competition standards.

At the three-day competition, the robot played a game called Logo Motion. In this game, it had to secure game pieces on a 10 foot scoring grid. The game began with an autonomous control period, in which the robot followed pre-programmed instructions in order to complete the tasks. In the second part of the game, the students controlled the robot remotely. In the third phase, the robot deployed a mini-bot in a race to the top of one of four scoring poles. The GearHogs competed against veteran teams mentored by engineers from Motorola, Baxter Healthcare, Boeing and Honeywell.

"We were extremely honored to receive such a distinguished award at one of FIRST's most prestigious regional events," said Rainwater. "Our first year success is a testament to the commitment of Springdale High School's faculty and students. As an engineering faculty member, it is exciting to see the passion that these young adults have shown towards engineering. Having FIRST in this region of the state is something dedicated people have been pursing for over a decade. It is gratifying to see everyone's efforts result in such a successful rookie season."

< FIRST stands for inspiration and recognition of science and technology. The organization was founded by Dean Kamen in 1989 to promote science and technology among young people. FIRST sponsors programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The GearHogs are supported by the University of Arkansas, NASA, JCPenney, Multi-Craft Contractors, the Willard and Pat Walker Foundation and Carfton Tull, and they are currently looking for additional funding for their trip to the World Championships.

"This dream of making it to the World Championship will become a reality only if we attain the funds needed for the trip," explained Amy Winfrey, the team's publicist. There couldn't be a better group of students that deserve this more than this GearHogs Robotics team!"

Release date: 5/2/2011