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Dave Meany - EWU Media Relations
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Cheney, WA 99004
phone: 509.359.6335
fax: 509.359.4701

EWU Hosts Regional Robotics

Published: September 28, 2011

SPOKANE, Wash. - As part of its continuing commitment to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, Eastern Washington University will for the first time host one of 55 national FIRST Robotics Competitions (FRC) April 4-7, 2012, at EWU's Reese Court Pavilion.

Eastern has conducted several annual FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competitions over the past three years with its focus on fourth through eighth grade participants. The regional robotics event provides a bigger stage, a bigger challenge and focuses on high school team participation with more than 1,500 people visiting the Eastern campus each day of the event.

EWU is partnering with the continuing efforts of Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) to advocate STEM awareness, community investment and active participation in STEM initiatives. The extensive networking capabilities of GSI will be put to good use in the recruitment of sponsorship support and volunteers, which will number 80-100 individuals and include working engineers from throughout the region.

"Investing in STEM educational initiatives for our youth is crucial for our workforce development and future economy," said GSI President and CEO Rich Hadley. "Programs and events like this will pay off long-term with new employees eager to enter the science and technical fields."

EWU expects more than 40 high school teams to participate in the 16-week season that culminates in the regional competition on the Cheney campus. "EWU is thrilled to host this challenging program and welcome these bright students," said EWU President Rodolfo Arévalo. "Encouraging them to take an interest in science and technology is part of the university's mission, as our faculty are committed to preparing our youth to be leaders in growing fields such as engineering and health care."

Often called a varsity sport for the mind, FRC features a real-world challenge to be solved by research, critical thinking, construction, teamwork and imagination. It combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules and time limits, more than 30 teams of up to 24 students are challenged to build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors on a playing surface the approximate size of a basketball court.

Winning teams from the EWU regional will advance to the FRC Championship in St. Louis, Mo., April 25-28 to compete against teams from the United States and around the world.

To support STEM education and specifically FIRST programs, EWU annually offers 15 academic scholarship awards to its freshman and sophomore students who have previously participated in FIRST competitions. Each award is for $2,000.

For more information about the FRC at Eastern, or to volunteer for the event, please contact EWU Vice President of Advancement Mike Westfall at or 509.359.7430.

For more information about Greater Spokane Incorporated and its STEM awareness and workforce development initiatives, visit, or contact Shelly O'Quinn at

For more details about FIRST, visit



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