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First Tech Challenge:

Recognizing Science and Technology

By Mariela Rodriguez
On April 1, 2011

On March 26, 2011 Texas A&M International University hosted the first annual First Tech Challenge. This competition was designed for those who want to compete head to head using, a sports model. Teams of up to 10 students were responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete in an alliance format against other teams.


Local high schools participated in this competition: Cigarroa, Martin, United, United South, St. Augustine, Lyndon B. Johnson, and the Laredo I.S.D. Early College High Schools were among the competitors.


Teams, including coaches, mentors, and volunteers, were required to develop a strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles. At the end of the competition, awards were given to the winners of each competition, as well as for community outreach, design, and other real world accomplishments.


When asked what First Tech Challenge was, Dr. Carol Waters, head of the Bi-national Center and Associate Vice President for Academic Enrichment/International Development, responded, "First Tech Challenge is sponsored by a nonprofit organization which encourages students to participate in further robotics competitions, but it gives students who want to get into robotics the opportunity to do so."


Dr. Waters delightedly explained, "It's the first time we have this particular competition. This had been extremely exciting for us!"


When asked about the overall purpose for the competition, Dr. Waters stated "There are multiple purposes. One of them of course is to foster interest in science education." She went on to say, " I think what it does is that it puts it in a context which is not only fun, but its something students can represent their own schools in. They can do something that is very beneficial to both them and the community. It also gives them a chance to highlight what they can do."


Dr. Waters ended by stating "We're just very thrilled and hope to do this again in the Fall."

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(Mariela Rodriguez may be reached at   

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