Teams from 31 high schools in nine states recently competed for top honors during the 2009 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Bayou Regional competition held March 19-21 in New Orleans.
A team from St. Stanislaus College High School in Bay St. Louis partnered with two Texas high schools to emerge as the tournament's alliance champion. All three teams played 11 qualifying matches, then survived three rounds of competition against other alliance partners.
Two other Mississippi teams received the tournament's top awards.
The team from Gulfport (Miss.) High School walked away with the most prestigious of honors, earning the Regional Chairman's Award, which recognizes the team creating the best partnership effort and best exemplifying the true meaning of FIRST.
The team from St. Patrick Catholic High School in Biloxi received the second-highest award, earning the Regional Engineering Inspiration Award for outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within the team's school and community.
The FIRST competition is designed to encourage students to pursue engineering and technology careers. High school teams are given six weeks to build robots that can perform assigned tasks. They then compete in regional events across the country to earn a chance to go to the finals.
NASA and the John C. Stennis Space Center are strong supporters of FIRST Robotics and the Bayou Regional event through direct monetary support and the work of judges, volunteers and team mentors. The overall NASA/John C. Stennis Space Center monetary support of FIRST Robotics and the Bayou Regional Competition in 2009 totaled $500,000.
More than half of the 2009 Bayou Regional field hailed from Louisiana (13 teams) and Mississippi (nine teams). Participating schools included: (Louisiana) Hahnville High School in Boutte; Central High School in Baton Rouge; St. Paul's High School in Covington; Destrehan High School and St. Charles Parish Public Schools; Hammond High School; Fontainebleau and Mandeville high schools in Mandeville; John Ehret High School in Marrero; McMain Secondary, Edna Karr, Sarah T. Reed Senior and O. Perry Walker Senior high schools in New Orleans and Northshore High School in Slidell; (Mississippi) St. Stanislaus College High School; St. Patrick Catholic High School; Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood; Gulfport High School; Holly Springs High School; Provine High School in Jackson; Picayune and Pearl River Central high schools in Picayune; South Pontotoc High School; St. Stanislaus College High School; and Vicksburg-Warren Schools in Vicksburg.
Several of those schools made it past qualifying rounds to compete in the alliance portion of the weekend – (Louisiana) Central, St. Paul's, Destrehan, Hammond, Fontainebleau, Mandeville, John Ehret, McMain Secondary, Edna Karr and Sarah T. Reed Senior high schools; (Mississippi) St. Stanislaus College, St. Patrick Catholic, Gulfport, South Pontotoc and Picayune and Pearl River Central high schools and Vicksburg-Warren schools.
Of those, three Louisiana teams (Hammond, John Ehret and Edna Karr high schools) and four Mississippi teams (St. Patrick, South Pontotoc, St. Stanislaus College and Picayune and Pearl River Central high schools) survived the quarterfinals, where eight three-team alliances engaged in best-of-three matches for overall honors. Hammond High School, St. Stanislaus and Picayune and Pearl River Central high schools advanced through the semifinals to compete in the finals.
In addition, several Louisiana and Mississippi teams garnered awards from their robotics work and their level of participation at the Bayou Regional event. They included:
Edna Karr High School – The Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award for application of control components to provide unique machine functions.
Vicksburg-Warren Schools – The Delphi "Driving Tomorrow's Technology" Award to celebrate an elegant and advantageous machine feature; and the Underwriters Laboratories Industrial Safety Award for using innovative ways to eliminate or protect against hazards.
Gulfport High School – The Regional Chairman's Award; the Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers Entrepreneurship Award in recognition of a comprehensive business plan to scope, manage and achieve team objectives; and the Web site Award for their student-designed, -built and -managed FIRST Web site.
St. Patrick Catholic High School – The Regional Engineering Inspiration Award; and the Autodesk Visualization Award for excellence in student animation.
Northshore High School in Slidell, La. – The Johnson & Johnson Gracious Professionalism Award for outstanding sportsmanship on and off the playing field.
Destrehan High School – The Xerox Creativity Award for creativity in design, use of a component or strategy of play.
Mandeville High School – The Rookie All Star Award for exemplifying a young but strong partnership effort and implementing the mission of FIRST to inspire students to learn more about science and technology; and the Highest Rookie Seeding Award for the team's standing at the end of the qualifying rounds.
Hammond High School – The Judges' Awards for unique efforts, performance or dynamics during the competition.
Provine High School in Jackson, Miss. – The Chrysler Team Spirit Award for extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit.
- end -