ATX STEM Park is pleased to announce we have a home this Robotics season. In a collaborative agreement with between Austin Community College (ACC) and LASA Robotics Association, Phase 1 of ATX STEM Park will begin spring February 2015 with a space large enough to host Austin’s first shared FIRST Robotics Challenge competition field at the Austin ACC Highland Mall. FIRST Robotics helps students build real-world STEM skills by building and designing robots that compete in sports-style tournaments. The program involves students from age 6 to age 18. Central Texas teams compete locally and regionally in spring and fall, and have also competed in the FIRST world championship tournament, which draws teams from across the world. Many of the students who participate go on to study STEM fields in college, often with scholarships earned by participating in FIRST, and often go on to work in high-tech fields.
“Finally, Austin’s World Class FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC) teams will be able to play an actual game before their first competition event” says ATX STEM Park board member Becky Carter. “Just like a basketball team needs to practice and scrimmage in preparation for a competition, our robotics teams can now evaluate their robots on a full size field prior to competing”. Tony Bertucci, the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA) Robotics Teacher and coach of the award winning LASA Robotics team, FRC 418, adds that “Space at all schools are at a premium and not available when the area teams need them for practice. What is exciting about this is that our teams in AISD, Eanes, Round Rock and other Central Austin schools now have a space this season where they can test out designs, fully stress out their robots, and meet to exchange ideas.” Seniors on the LASA Robotics team, Marek Travnikar and Daniel Teal agree. “Having this space available helps us visualize how our robots will move through space and time, improving our game strategy and designs.”
ATX STEM Park emerged from the LASA Robotics team’s need for space to practice and meet with other area teams. Students worked over the summer to develop the concept and to meet with local leaders in government, education and the tech field. The project envisions a community-accessible space where citizens share their passion to learn, create and compete in pursuit of STEM activities. Phase 1 is the first of a 3-phase plan. Eventually the STEM park will develop to include space for everything from children’s educational programs to Friday night pick-up robot games. The goal is to create a space that will serve as a center for STEM learning for our entire community, serving everyone from students wanting to develop their skills to area high-tech employers hoping to help develop a larger high-skilled workforce.