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Hudson Valley Part Of Collaborative Robot- And Confidence-Building Effort

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or (518) 210-4161

FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Tuesday, February 26, 2002

With help from Hudson Valley Community College, Team 250 (also known as "The Dynamos") recently finished and shipped off their entry for the 2002 FIRST Robotics competition. Comprised of 66 male and female high school students, primarily from Colonie Central High School and Shenendehowa High School, Team 250 built a robot capable of picking up balls and dropping them into pre-determined zones or goals.

Hudson Valley contributed to the robot by making aluminum plates that form transmission cases. Constructed with assistance from Hudson Valley professor Jim Hamilton in the college's Machining Processes Lab II class, a required class in the Manufacturing Technical Systems curriculum, the plates were drilled and counterbored together. There are holes for shafts and bearings.

"In layman terms, the parts we made are cases for the transmission, which will propel the robot," Hamilton said.

"This is a great collaborative project," said Marian Barasch, chairperson for the Automotive and Industrial Technologies department at Hudson Valley. "It involves plenty of math and science, as well as problem-solving, and Hudson Valley is happy to be involved."

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, GE Power Systems, Verizon Communications and others also pitched in.

Team 250's five-foot-tall robot will compete at the 2002 FIRST Robotics regional competition, being held in Connecticut in April. Team 250, which sent its robot to Connecticut via FedEx on Feb. 19, won the regional competition in 2001.

The idea behind the 11-year-old FIRST Robotics competition – FIRST stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology" – is to bring out the best in young engineering talent. The robot specifications are disclosed on day one of a six-week period. The completed robots must then be built, tested and shipped to the site of the regional competition by the end of the six weeks. Teams compete for a spot at the national competition, to be held in late April at Epcot Center in Florida.

This year, Team 250 was required to build a robot that can pick up balls and move them to another location. Points are awarded for each accurate drop-off.

"These students are building more than just robots, though," Barasch said. "They're building knowledge and confidence. They're building an ability to work with others on a difficult task. Whether they win or lose, there are no losers in the FIRST Robotics competition."

Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 50 degree and certification programs in four academic divisions: Liberal Arts and Sciences; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Business; as well as programs run through the Educational Opportunity Center offering certification programs in workforce and academic preparation. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining.