Langevin Meets with PCTA Robotics Teams to Send Them Off to World Tournament in St. Louis

Apr 22, 2013 Issues: Economy and Jobs, Education, Rhode Island

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) met today with two winning robotics teams from Providence Career & Technical Academy. The teams demonstrated their robots as they prepared to travel to the world championship tournament later this week.

Robotics is having a big — and successful — year at Providence Career and Technical Academy. The all-girls robotics team at PCTA claimed the state title for the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) in February — the first all-girls team to accomplish this. Three weeks later, a second PCTA robotics team won the regional qualifier for the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). Both teams from this high-needs urban school district now have a bid to the FIRST World Championship Tournament to be held April 24-27 in St. Louis, MO.

Having two teams from the same school win a bid to the World tournament is a wonderful tribute to PCTA’s robotics program. The problem was the teams needed to raise about $24,000 to help cover entrance fees, shipping of their robots, and travel expenses. And they did it!

The World tournament hosts 400 teams from all across the United States and 30 countries. FIRST is an acronym that means For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our students to compete on the world stage and to interact with thousands of other students who are passionate about robotics, engineering and computer programming. It’s also a great chance for our juniors and seniors to learn more about colleges who recruit and support talented students interested in these fields. The contacts our students can make now that we are going to the World Championship Tournament are unparalleled. We are so grateful to everyone who donated to our campaign and to all our sponsors who are making this possible,” said Ramon Torres, director of career and technical education at PCTA.

Shortly after winning the bids to the World Tournament, the teams created a social media fundraising campaign and began seeking corporate sponsorship from Rhode Island companies. They raised $3,000 in the social media campaign. They were able to reach their goal due to private donations that were sent to the school and to generous sponsorship from The Champlin Foundation and corporations and organizations. Sponsors of the two teams include National Grid, Alex and Ani, BananaGrams, BankRI, Rhode Island School of Design, and The Providence Teachers’ Union.

Congressman Langevin said, “It is always a joy and an inspiration to attend the FIRST competitions, which represent exactly the type of STEM education partnership between businesses and educators that is vital to maximizing our nation’s future economic competitiveness,” said Langevin, who co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus. “The hard work and commitment of these young people and the support of everyone involved in the competition, will not only ensure the students make us proud in St. Louis, but will also help them become the problem solvers, the innovators and the job creators of tomorrow.”

The All-Girls PCTA robotics team, the “Rhody Girls,” claimed the FTC state title with their breast cancer awareness-themed robot, “PrettyBot” on February 16, 2013. The robot was dedicated in support of the school nurse, Barbara Rios, who returned to the school this year after her recent battle with breast cancer.

“She has inspired us to achieve the unthinkable, as not only are we the first all-girls team to win the RI State FTC Robotics Competition, we are also winners form a high-needs urban school district,” the girls said in a statement after winning the tournament held at New England Technical Institute on February 16. “We are so ecstatic to dedicate our hard work and success to Mrs. Rios.”

Just three weeks after that exciting tournament, the boys FRC robotics team from PCTA earned a bid to the world tournament at the regional qualifier held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The FIRST Championship is the culmination of the season’s FIRST programs, bringing together three separate robotics competitions for the ultimate Sport for the Mind™. The high-tech spectator events combine the excitement of sport with science and technology.