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Students prep for international robot competition

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -
About 400 young engineers are preparing for a big international robotics competition. On Saturday, teams from around the state gathered at East Carolina University to prepare for the FIRST Robotics Competition. 

The FIRST Robotics Competition is an annual competition that challenges high school students – working alongside professional mentors – to design and build a robot.

The unveiling of this year’s requirements took place by video conference Hendrix Theatre. Following that, students had the choice of beginning work on their designs with the help of ECU engineering faculty in the Mendenhall Student Center, or they may join a human-player game on a mock robotics competition field in the Student Recreation Center.

Some of Saturday’s participants belong to the Pitt Pirates squad. They are students from all of Pitt County's high schools. In 2012 the team placed first in the Raleigh regional event and went on to compete in Saint Louis against international opponents. Teachers and students alike, say they are excited for this year’s event. 

“I love it. It brings in 21st century skills, it brings in the collaboration and team work,” Ann McClung said.

Sunny Le a junior at South Central High School says, “I think all of this is a very good experience for us. It's good for insight. We can all get ideas on what we're going to do, especially with the human player game.”

The competition will be held March 14 to 15 at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh. This year’s competition is expected to draw 2,850 teams composed of more than 71,000 high school students to participate in nearly 100 regional and district events spread across the country.

Inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. More information about the organization is available at www.usfirst.org.
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