College to Host Hudson Valley FIRST Lego League Championship Tournament

February 11, 2011 – Dutchess Community College will host the 2011 Hudson Valley FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League Tournament championship matches on Feb. 26, the culmination of local qualifying tournaments that took place this winter. The event, open to the public, will be held in the Falcon Hall gymnasium between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The FIRST LEGO League competition features teams of three to 10 children charged with using LEGO components to build small robots that will complete specific missions based on this year’s theme of “Body Forward.” Teams in Westchester County and points north through Albany make up the Hudson Valley FIRST LEGO League.

The senior teams consist of up to 10 children ages 9-14, while children ages 6-9 comprise the junior groups. Team members work with their adult coach in the months prior to the competitions to build the robot, perform research and make test-runs on the missions. The theme for 2011 is “Body Forward,” which focuses on health. The autonomous robots designed by the teams perform tasks involving object collection and manipulation. Senior and junior teams explore the cutting-edge world of biomedical engineering to discover innovative ways to repair injuries, overcome genetic predispositions and maximize the body's potential.

“DCC is hosting the FIRST LEGO League regional championship matches for the third consecutive year, and I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Dr. Leah Akins, head of the DCC Engineering, Architecture and Computer Technologies department. “It’s a great way for younger students to develop technology literacy and learn about current engineering and technology challenges, while having fun at the same time.”

The winning team will receive a trophy made of LEGO bricks, and an invitation to represent the region at an international competition.

After IBM decided to encourage the program through the IBM Academy of Technology in 2005, Dr. Casimer DeCusatis, a distinguished engineer at IBM, got involved by organizing multiple teams to meet together at the Poughkeepsie facility. As interest grew, DeCusatis discussed the possibility of expanding the program through public and private school organizations leading up to an informal 12-team tournament in 2008 held at DCC. Later that year, the Hudson Valley region was officially recognized as a FIRST LEGO League partner organization under the leadership of DeCusatis and John Houston of IBM and Akins along with DCC engineering professors Mark Courtney and Dan Barbuto.

In addition to the host sites, Adva Optical Networking, Central Hudson, IBM, NYSTAR, Time Warner Cable and the Mid-Hudson Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) are the tournament’s major sponsors. Additional sponsors include Mid-Hudson Association for Computing Machinery and Brick Kids.

FIRST is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 to foster an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Each year, more than 120,000 students in eight countries participate in FIRST LEGO League. FIRST is headquartered in Manchester, New Hampshire.

For more information, call Leah Akins at (845) 431-8421 , or Casimer DeCusatis at (845) 435-7232 .