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FAIRMONT – Competitive Robotics in West Virginia has reached an all-time high with more teams across the state than ever before.
The West Virginia Robotics Alliance, managed by the Education Resource Center (ERC) team at the NASA Katherine Johnson IV&V Facility, released new data for the 2023-24 Robotics Season that shows a peak in the number of teams and steady growth over the last several years.
Number of Robotics Teams in WV “The ERC assumed management of the FIRST LEGO League tournament in 2011 when we had barely 50 teams in West Virginia,” ERC Program Manager Dr. Todd Ensign said. “Today, there are over 550 teams that engage approximately 3,000 students almost daily!”
According to the data, the overall number of robotics teams in the state has risen every year since 2011 – with one exception during the 2020-21 season when the COVID-19 pandemic impacted participation.
The ERC now runs qualifying events every weekend, numerous state championships, invitational tournaments, and international competitions. Ensign and many other figures within the ERC and Robotics Alliance have championed robotics events and opportunities for students across the state, including in some of its most rural communities, to help reach this point.
“This is indeed an achievement on behalf of the students, coaches, parents, schools and districts who are supporting competitive robotics,” Ensign said.
With such exponential growth, Ensign says more volunteers are needed to support current and future events. Positions are available for people of all ages and levels of prior experience. To learn more about how to volunteer, visit https://www.wvrobot.org/volunteer.
A major development in West Virginia’s robotics landscape came in 2021 when the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC) recognized robotics as a co-curricular activity. This update made it possible for students to receive a varsity letter in robotics, gaining recognition similar to those earned in marching band or other sports.
When the WVSSAC recognition was announced, many at the ERC had high hopes for what it would mean to further STEM and robotics in West Virginia.
“We hope recognition from the WVSSAC will increase the number of schools throughout West Virginia participating in competitive robotics,” John Holbrook, of the ERC, said at the time. “Ultimately, our goal is to see robotics teams from every county of West Virginia.”
And with the new milestone reached in participation, those goals are closer than ever before. Many events are upcoming as the 2023-24 robotics season continues, including what is set to be the largest VEX State Championship in West Virginia history, March 10-16, at the Fairmont State University Falcon Center and the WVSSAC Robotics State Championship, April 6, at Herbert Hoover High School, in Elkview, West Virginia.
For a full list of upcoming events: WV Robotics Alliance – Upcoming Events
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By European Space Agency
Today, ESA’s space telescope Euclid begins its survey of the dark Universe. Over the next six years, Euclid will observe billions of galaxies across 10 billion years of cosmic history. Learn how the team prepared Euclid in the months after launch for this gigantic cosmic quest.
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Official Crew-9 Crew Portraits with Zena Cardman, Nick Hague, Stephanie Wilson and Aleksandr GorbunovNASA As part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-9 mission, four crew members are preparing to launch to the International Space Station and conduct a wide-ranging set of operational and research activities for the benefit of all.
Launching aboard the Dragon spacecraft, NASA astronauts Commander Zena Cardman, Pilot Nick Hague, and Mission Specialist Stephanie Wilson, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Mission Specialist Aleksandr Gorbunov, will join Expedition 71 and 72 crew members no earlier than August. They will arrive to the space station for a short duration handover with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission
This will be the first spaceflight for Cardman, who was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2017. The Williamsburg, Virginia, native holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a master’s in Marine Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At time of selection, she was a doctoral candidate in geosciences. Cardman’s research focused on geobiology and geochemical cycling in subsurface environments, from caves to deep sea sediments. Since completing initial training, Cardman has supported real-time station operations and development for lunar surface exploration.
With a total of 203 days in space, this will be Hague’s third launch and second mission to the orbiting laboratory. During his first launch in 2018, Hague and his crewmate, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, experienced a rocket booster failure resulting in an in-flight launch abort. The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft landed safely. Five months later, Hague launched aboard Soyuz MS-12 and served as a flight engineer aboard the space station during Expeditions 59 and 60. Hague and his crewmates participated in hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science, and Earth science. Hague conducted three spacewalks, to upgrade space station power systems and install a docking adapter for commercial spacecraft. As an active-duty colonel in the U.S. Space Force, Hague completed a developmental rotation at the Defense Department in Washington, where he served as the USSF director of test and evaluation from 2020 to 2022. In August 2022, Hague resumed duties at NASA working on the Boeing Starliner Program until this flight assignment.
A veteran of three spaceflights, STS-121, STS-120, and STS-131, Wilson has spent 42 days in space aboard three separate space shuttle Discovery missions. Before her selection as a NASA astronaut in 1996, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Engineering Science from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas in Austin, and worked at Martin Marietta and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. During her first mission, STS-121 in November 2004, she and her crewmates spent 13 days in orbit. Wilson served as the robotic arm operator for spacecraft inspection, for the installation of the “Leonardo” Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, and for spacewalk support. In November 2006, Wilson and her STS-120 crewmates aboard Discovery delivered the Harmony module to the station and relocated a solar array. In May 2009, Wilson and her STS-131 crewmates completed another mission to resupply the station, delivering a new ammonia tank for the station cooling system, new crew sleeping quarters, a window observation facility, and a freezer for experiments. During her nearly 30 years with NASA, Wilson served as the integration branch chief for NASA’s Astronaut Office focusing on International Space Station systems and payload operations, and on a nine-month detail, served as the acting chief of NASA’s Program and Project Integration Office at the agency’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
This will be Gorbunov’s first trip to space and the station. Born in Zheleznogorsk, Kursk region, Russia, he studied engineering with qualifications in spacecraft and upper stages from the Moscow Aviation Institute. Gorbunov graduated from the military department with a specialty in operation and repair of aircraft, helicopters, and aircraft engines. Before being selected as a cosmonaut in 2018, he worked as an engineer for Rocket Space Corporation Energia and supported cargo spacecraft launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome.
This is the ninth rotational mission to the space station under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which works with the American aerospace industry to meet the goal of safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the orbital outpost on American-made rockets and spacecraft launching from American soil.
For more than two decades, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The station is a critical testbed for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight and to expand commercial opportunities in low Earth orbit. As commercial companies focus on providing human space transportation services and destinations as part of a robust low Earth orbit economy, NASA’s Artemis campaign is underway at the Moon where the agency is preparing for future human exploration of Mars.
Find more information on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at:
Johnson Space Center, Houston
Last Updated Jan 31, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
Humans in Space Commercial Space International Space Station (ISS) ISS Research Missions View the full article
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