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University Participation In First Wpi's Experience

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.459.1 - 2.459.3



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William W. Durgin

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2325

University Participation in FIRST WPI’s Experience

William W. Durgin Worcester Polytechnic Institute


WPI has entered the FIRST Competition every year since its inception and continues to strongly support the contest precisely because the philosophy is critically important to high school students in our technological society. A number of organizational models have been used in attempts to effectively involve the university community as well a corporate sponsors and high school students and faculty. Every entry resulted in a competitive robot, excellent high school team, and successful performance. The highest place finish was a second place and one honor, the Creative Design Award, was achieved. Integration of the FIRST effort into the university community, especially faculty and student involvement, has proved difficult. Many of the difficulties have been overcome so that the WPI experience may provide useful experience for other universities.


WPI entered the first competition with a robot designed and built by research engineers from the manufacturing engineering laboratory along with students from a nearby high school. One faculty member was involved and provided overall guidance. The laboratory was a self- supporting research activity and was, therefore, more like an industrial setting than an academic one. Only two engineers and a technician were involved and only a few high school students - just enough to provide a pool of drivers - were involved. This same model was essentially utilized in the second year as well.

In the third year, WPI sought to fully utilize its project based educational program by having senior engineering students design and fabricate the robot. High school participation was expanded to include the Massachusetts Academy of Science and Mathematics, an on-campus two-year high school. A single faculty member provided leadership and high school faculty began to become involved. The robot design was divided into three portions, with an undergraduate project team responsible for each portion.

In the fourth and fifth years, only the Mass Academy students and faculty participated as the high school team. The overall project was under the direction of a faculty member and used a very compact design and fabrication team composed of a research engineer, graduate student, and an undergraduate student.

The sixth year saw much greater involvement of the high school students and faculty. They accepted all responsibility including development of strategy, team organization, travel, driver

Durgin, W. W. (1997, June), University Participation In First Wpi's Experience Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6856

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