12:37 PM

Maryland STEM Students Win Coveted “Inspire Award” in FIRST Tech Global Competition in Detroit

Columbia, MD and Washington May 7, 2018. A team of young robotics innovators from Montgomery County dubbed “Wizards.exe” received the top award—the “Inspire Award”—at the FIRST Tech Challenge international championships held in Detroit, Michigan, last week. Backed by corporate sponsors and by support from Universities Space Research Association (USRA), this team won the highest award a team can achieve in this challenging competition. Recipients of this award are honored for inventiveness, excellence in robot design, engineering process, outreach to the corporate and local community, and performance on and off the field.

Dr. Jeffrey A. Isaacson, USRA’s President and Chief Executive Officer, noted, “As the Affiliate Partner for the FIRST Tech Challenge in Maryland, we are thrilled that the Wizards received this well-deserved recognition. In the last year alone, USRA achieved 15 % growth among students participating in FIRST programs, and USRA will continue its commitment to develop FIRST teams like Wizards.exe. We do so with the help of many dedicated volunteers, teachers, and coaches.”

Members of Team 9794 Wizard.exe came from five schools across Montgomery County: Richard Montgomery High School, Montgomery Blair High School, Julius West Middle School, Robert Frost Middle School, and Takoma Park Middle School. The team members included Maanav Allampallam, Jyotsna Bhatnagar, Sarthak Bhatnagar, Shruti Chauhan, Raashi Dewan, Rohan Dewan, Lena Franklin, Arjun Oberoi, Ishaan Oberoi, Anika Seth, and Devasena Sitaram, and were coached by Pankaj Oberoi.

The Universities Space Research Association, a non-profit organization, located in Columbia, Maryland, is an affiliate partner for the FIRST Lego League Junior and the FIRST Tech Challenge. As such, it has fiduciary responsibility for managing the teams, recruiting sponsors and volunteers, helping form the teams, and offering workshops and training. USRA has championed STEM education since its inception, and since the establishment of the USRA STEMaction Center in 2016, it has seen an increased interest in its programs.

The USRA STEMaction Center expands its reach throughout Maryland and the greater Washington DC region. It amalgamates several programs under its umbrella, including programs that were previously under STEMaction Inc.—the FIRST Tech Challenge and the FIRST Lego League Junior.

About USRA

Founded in 1969, under the auspices of the National Academies of Science, Universities Space Research Association is an independent, nonprofit research corporation which offers an avenue for government and industry to engage the expertise of the academic community together with USRA’s own technical leadership, innovative R&D, operational excellence, management of premier facilities and education programs to advance space- and aeronautics-related sciences and exploration. USRA works across disciplines including biomedicine, planetary science, astrophysics, and engineering and integrates those competencies into applications ranging from fundamental research to facility