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University of Iowa News Release


March 19, 2007

UI-Coached High School Student Robotics Team Semifinalist In Competition

A robotics team composed of 12 students from Iowa City West and City high schools and coached by University of Iowa College of Engineering staff members, local engineers and teachers recently advanced to the semifinal round of the U.S. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) regional robotics competition held March 8-10 in Milwaukee.

"This was a huge accomplishment, and this team showed a vast improvement since last year," said team mentor Nick Lorch, research engineer at the college's Center for Computer Aided Design Operator Performance Laboratory (OPL), as well as an industrial engineering graduate student in human factors.

In addition to Lorch, volunteer advisors to the FIRST team were Andy Veit, quality assurance engineer at the UI National Advanced Driving Simulator; Dominic Audia, teacher at Iowa City High School and Iowa City West High School; and Mark Whiting and Mike Pownel, both engineers with Rockwell Collins of Cedar Rapids.

The team was composed of high school students from:       

--Coralville: Max Bryk, Tyler Dawson and Ross Johnson.

--Iowa City: Ethan Coffel, David Lam-Lu, Nick Logan, Katie Malatek, Denton Margeson, Andrew Muellerleile, and Isaac Sheff.

--North Liberty: Rochelle Becker and Andrew Van Beek.

"Our robot was ranked 29th out of 54 at the end of the preliminary events," said Lorch, who helped students build the robot at OPL's Iowa City Airport-based building. "The top eight teams each drafted two teams to be members of their alliance. Our robot was chosen to be with the first-ranked team for the elimination matches. The tournament bracket was a best-of-three format, and we won the quarterfinals in two, however, we lost in the semifinals." He added that the students are excited about their accomplishment and have already designed a new logo for next year's team.

FIRST was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, inventor and entrepreneur, as a not-for-profit public charity that designs accessible, innovative programs to motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,