For the eighth consecutive year – and on Pi Day – NBCUniversal and Comcast sponsored the non-profit, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition, an effort focused on inspiring young people to become science and technology leaders. About 100 NBCUniversal and Comcast employees across the U.S. mentored high school students who competed in the FIRST Robotics regional finals in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia, and Orlando. NBCUniversal and Comcast mentors guided six teams over the course of six weeks, helping the teenagers engineer solutions to the 2015 theme, “RECYCLE RUSH.” FIRST announced the challenge theme in January.
The "RECYCLE RUSH" challenge called for the design of a remote-controlled robot that could perform predetermined tasks against a field of competitors. Each team had just six weeks to build its robot before competing on the field, gaining points by stacking bins and totes and also cleaning up "litter." Local winning teams moved on to district rounds and then finally to a global competition.
Team Exploding Bacon from Orlando received regional recognition and qualified for the championship event in St. Louis, Missouri this weekend, April 23rd-25th. Students participated on the code, build, drive and social media teams. Since January, a group of NBCUniversal employees led by Matthew Miller has mentored the team and worked with their teachers, meeting with them in the evenings and on weekends.
“It is such an honor to work with the Exploding Bacon team,” said Matthew Miller, Asst. Program Manager, Strategic Innovation and Emerging Technology, Universal Parks and Orlando FIRST mentor. “They continue to impress us with their motivation and dedication to problem solving and engineering solutions.”
The Miami L.I.F.E. and Seattle Chill Out…! teams also received distinction at the March regional events.
The DoubleX Robotics team represented Brearly and Chapin – two all girls New York City schools – in competing at the 15th Annual FIRST Robotics New York Regional Competition at the Javits Center. Lily Piao and Alex Hohmann served as team captains of the 20-person team, which included students from 8th to 12th grades.
“We couldn’t be more proud that DoubleX placed 4th in the semi-finals and placed 10th in a 3-way tie for the overall competition,” said Michelle Strah, Director, Enterprise Architecture, NBCUniversal and New York City FIRST mentor. “Our team was amazing.”
There were 66 teams competing from the New York metro area, including two teams from China, one team from Brazil, and one team from England.
There were also 66 teams from the Los Angeles area. “We couldn’t be prouder of our team NohoRobo. They made it to semi-finals and ranked 4th at Inland Empire Regionals and 6th at Long Beach Regionals,” said Filiz Bahmanpour, Senior Director, UTS/TV Production Operations Technology, NBCUniversal and Los Angeles FIRST Robotics mentor. “They have been competing for six years and this year is a turning point for them!”
In addition to building robots, NBCUniversal and Comcast celebrated the ultimate pi day – when the date and time matched the first 10 digits of pi on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53 a.m. and p.m. – with pies and live countdowns marking the special moment.
Special thanks to my fellow team captains and to all of the mentors who made the NBCUniversal and Comcast FIRST Robotics sponsorship such a success.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines are among the most critical for success in a 21st century workforce; these disciplines are digital, networked, rapidly changing, and competition for talent is high.
NBCUniversal and Comcast are dedicated to educating viewers and consumers around key issues, including STEM-related programming. Most recently, NBCUniversal and Comcast celebrated Pi Day under the “Pi is Universal” umbrella with a full slate of technology-themed content, social media activations and consumer events.
Above: Team "Exploding Bacon" and mascot Wilbur meet with executives
Above: Team DoubleX Robotics