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“Girls of Steel” Qualify for FIRST Championship
March 28, 2011

An all-girl robotics team sponsored by Carnegie Mellon's Field Robotics Center (FRC) and the PghTech Women Network won the All-Star Rookie Award at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Pittsburgh regional March 11-12 and also at the Washington, D.C., regional March 24-25. The wins qualified the team to participate in the FIRST national championship April 27-30 in St. Louis, MO.

Also at the Pittsburgh regional, Ryan Cahoon, a junior who majors in computer science and computer and electrical engineering, was named the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year for his work with the Steel City Robotics Alliance, an organization that helps area FIRST teams share information and resources.

The rookie team, the Girls of Steel, includes 24 students in grades 9 through 12 from 11 Pittsburgh area high schools and a home school student.

Weekly training classes began in October and the team’s “building season” began in January at the FRC, led by George Kantor, systems scientist. Also helping are Balajee Kannan, research engineer; M. Bernardine Dias, assistant research professor; Chuck Whittaker, robotics field and test engineer; David Wettergreen, associate research professor; William "Red"Whittaker, FRC director; and several graduate and undergraduate students.

The team built two robots, “Crush” and “Squirt” for this year¹s FIRST competition. Crush is designed to hang inflated plastic shapes onto a grid, for which the team will receive points during each match. Squirt is a small electro-mechanical minibot, which will race on a vertical pole to earn points.

For more information contact Patti Rote, robotics industry program director, at 412-576-9742.

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