See Robots Compete at McKendree University on Jan. 14

University to Host FIRST Tech Challenge for High School Students - View Photo Gallery

Lebanon, Ill. — In a competition known as a “varsity sport for the mind,” the rivals will be robots, not athletes, when McKendree University hosts the FIRST® Tech Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012.

The event will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the gymnasium of the Melvin Price Convocation Center, on Alton St. in Lebanon. Spectators are welcome to observe the tournament after 11:45 a.m. Awards will be presented at approximately 4:50 p.m. Admission is free.

Students from 35 Illinois and Missouri high schools have designed, built and programmed 18-by-18-inch robots from kits, applying math and science concepts, and developing problem-solving, organizational and team-building skills in the process. During the challenge, the students practice “gracious professionalism™” as they form alliances and compete against other teams. Coaches, mentors and volunteers assist the students in planning their strategies. Awards are given for the competition as well as for community outreach, design and other accomplishments.

“We fully anticipate this robotics competition to be as exciting as any athletic sporting event," said Dr. Jim Feher of the McKendree University computing division, who co-chairs the event with Dr. Adam Tournier, assistant professor in the science and math division.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) non-profit organization is the brainchild of inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen, perhaps best known as the creator of the two-wheeled Segway transporter. It encourages young people to discover the excitement and reward of science and technology, and to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Teams can advance from the qualifying tournaments to state championships and ultimately the World Championship Tournament, to be held in April at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Participants can also qualify for nearly $9.7 million in college scholarships. For more information, visit the websites or