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Clarkson Robotics Team Places Third In Regionals

The Clarkson University FIRST Robotics Team came in third place at the regional competition held March 8 – 10 on Long Island. The robot’s excellent performance led to some of the highest team scores in the competition against other robotics teams from New York and New England.

Forty team members, teachers and parent advisors traveled to Suffolk County Community College for the competition. High school students from Salmon River, Massena, and Potsdam, as well as Clarkson students, had worked intensively since early January to design and build the robot to accomplish certain tasks in the FIRST games.

The FIRST Robotics competition emphasized teamwork this year, with four randomly selected robot teams grouped in alliances only minutes before a match. During each two-minute game period, the four teams had to work together, using each robot’s particular abilities to score as many points as possible.

A large number of students with an array of skills were involved in the design and construction of the robot. At the competition, however, only five members of the team are allowed on the field. The Clarkson robot was driven by Potsdam high school student Sean Corbett; the robotic arm was operated by Salmon River high school student Rebecca Delles; and the “human player” was Massena high school student Ethan Souter-Ran. Parent advisor Andy Souter-Ran and Clarkson mechanical and aeronautical engineering senior Kelly Ford (Williamsville, NY) were also on the field as mentors.

Clarkson electrical and computer engineering senior Robyn Jackey (Oakland, ME) was the team leader.

The Clarkson team made it to the semifinals, where it competed as part of an alliance led by Bay Path Regional High School (Massachusetts). With a series of record-breaking scores against the alliance led by Wooster Polytechnic Institute (MA), the Bay Path/Clarkson alliance appeared to be headed to the final round. In one last match, however, the Bay Path/Clarkson alliance’s highest score was surpassed by the WPI alliance by ten points.

“I can’t believe we made it this far,” said Rebecca Delles, the Salmon River student who operated the robot’s arm. “We did awesome!”

John Croasdaile, physics teacher at Massena High School and one of the team advisors, was thrilled by the team’s hard work and enthusiasm. “This is an experience that will stay with the students the rest of their lives,” he explained. “It’s a real-life challenge, and it shows how using your intelligence and learning to solve problems can be fun.”

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a national program that aims to inspire high school students to pursue college degrees and ultimately careers in science and technology. The annual robotics competition teams high school students with engineers from industry and universities to design and build a remote-controlled robot that competes in a sporting-like event. The teams do not find out the nature of the competition until early January, and have only six weeks to build the robot, using a common kit of parts.

The FIRST Robotics team is one of fourteen projects supported by Clarkson’s SPEED (Students Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) program. SPEED promotes multidisciplinary project based learning opportunities and annually supports the project activities of an average of 200 undergraduates. SPEED projects involve engineering design and analysis, project fabrication, and the enhancement of such professional competencies as project and budget management, effective teamwork and communication skills.

Clarkson’s FIRST Robotics team also receives support from the New York Power Authority and St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES.
To learn more about the FIRST Robotics Competition, visit the official FIRST website at To learn more about Clarkson’s SPEED program and the FIRST Robotics entry, contact Tina C. Yuille at 315-268-7976 or

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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