Kids to build LEGO robots for UTSA robotics competition March 31

LEGO robot

LEGO robot photo from Mario Ferrari's Personal Web Pages

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(March 21, 2012) -- The Interactive Technology Experience Center (iTEC) in the UTSA College of Engineering will present the 2012 Getting Excited About Robotics (G.E.A.R.) Competition from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., Saturday, March 31 at the Convocation Center on the UTSA Main Campus. People of all ages are welcome to observe the robotics competition free of charge.

UTSA's G.E.A.R. is one of the largest domestic robotics competitions for youths in the United States. The annual robotics competition motivates third through eighth graders to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by offering engaging, interactive, hands-on activities that build technical skills and foster critical thinking, self-confidence, communication and leadership.

This year's event, "Power Up," challenges children to maintain the energy infrastructure of Energy Inc., a fictitious company created for the competition. Energy Inc. employees (competitors) will work with different sources of energy from traditional fossil fuels to green alternatives such as wind and hydroelectric energy. Students will build and program robots using LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT robotics kits to complete specific tasks at Energy Inc.

The G.E.A.R. competition is sponsored by Time Warner Cable, Valero Energy Corp., Lewis Energy, BP and Long John Silver's restaurants. More than 1,600 people are expected to attend including 119 teams of third through eighth grade competitors. In the past, competitors have come from as far as the Midland-Odessa area, Eagle Pass and Houston.

"The G.E.A.R. competition is the ideal platform to pique young students' interest in the STEM areas," said Mauli Agrawal, dean of UTSA College of Engineering. "We are grateful for the support of our sponsors who see the importance in fostering children's curiosity and interest in these fields through interactive applications."

iTEC's mission is to inspire youth by creating an environment where they can understand how engineering, science, mathematics and technology shape our lives and the future of our world. The center's focus areas include robotics, alternative energy, manufacturing, space science, aeronautics, environmental science, geology and forensics.