Recap of Smoky Mtns Regional Robotics Challenge

from Mike Wehrenberg

The Smoky Mountains Regional High School Robotics Competition had an extremely successful event at the end of March with Collierville HS (outside Memphis) winning the Rookie All Star award and Oak Ridge H.S. being one of the three high school Regional Winners of the event. Both of these Tennessee schools will receive an invitation to the world championships at the Edward Jones dome in St Louis (where the RAMS play)….about 50,000 people will be in attendance at the end of April for that competition.

This was our fourth year of competition at the Knoxville Convention Ctr in a game called Aerial Assist. 35 teams from Tennessee competed along with 14 teams from the surrounding states of Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, N Carolina, and S Carolina. It was a fantastic, “graciously professional,” and exciting event with all the teams representing themselves, their STEM programs, and their ability to set and achieve goals in an powerful and emotional way.

Other “Tennessee” news of note –

  1. Hardin Valley Academy won the Industrial Safety Award, the Industrial Design award, and one of their mentors, Lonnie Love, won the Woodie Flowers Mentoring award
  2. Knoxville Catholic HS won the Excellence in Engineering award
  3. Halls HS won the Creativity award
  4. Oak Ridge HS also won the Innovation in Control award
  5. Collierville HS also won the Highest Rookie Seed award
  6. Boyd Buchanan HS from Chattanooga won the Judge’s award and was one of the three Finalist’s at the event
    White Station

HS from Memphis won the Rookie Inspiration award

A complete listing of the winners and awardees is here:

With the incorporation of TNFIRST LLC as a Tennessee non-profit this past year, we need all the support and help we can to grow this program and make sure Tennessee stays well-represented in this competition and program. There are over 68,000 students from over 2700 teams across the nation with only 35 teams competing from Tennessee. We need the parents, the teachers,  the businesses, the school boards, the education-oriented organizations, and the state legislature to help build the interests and skills  of our K12 students in STEM-related efforts and activities. This program is an effective and very exciting way to get our students engaged in STEM and to help fuel the Drive to 55.

My goal here was to make sure that some of the leadership that has had a chance to see this program in action received some feedback on this year’s efforts and success. And to also keep plugging for help, support, and continued “spreading of the gospel” on growing the number of Tennessee teams that participate. Ideally, we need to have two regional competitions in this state with over 100 TN teams on board… and right now we’re still underfunded for the single event here in Knoxville by $20,000 (the actual competition costs over $100K to host).

So, please let me know if there is anyone or anything we at TNFIRST can do to continue to promote, prod, poke and sell this program and event.  Thanks for reading and thanks for your interest and support in the Smoky Mtns Regional Competition and in TNFIRST.

And please share this news with your contacts, as appropriate. Both to spread the great news and to recognize the TN teams for their awards and hard work.

Mike Wehrenberg
VP / Gen Mgr – Kendall Electric