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Robotics Competition Coming to Campus

Robotics Competition Combined Bioengineering, Military Drones and Sumo Wrestling

The Bourns College of Engineering hosted more than 500 middle and high school students Nov. 13

(November 15, 2010)

A team of students at the MESA Robotics Invitational robotics hosted Nov. 13 at the UC Riverside Bourns College of Engineering. (Photographs taken by Andrew Ong.)Enlarge

A team of students at the MESA Robotics Invitational robotics hosted Nov. 13 at the UC Riverside Bourns College of Engineering. (Photographs taken by Andrew Ong.)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – More than 500 middle and high school students from Riverside and San Bernardino counties converged at the UC Riverside Bourns College of Engineering on Nov. 13 for robotic competitions that drew on bioengineering, military drones and sumo wrestling.

The Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) School Programs at UCR, in conjunction with the San Bernardino Community College District and FIRST LEGO league hosted the third annual MESA Robotics Invitational from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bourns College of Engineering.

The event was the culmination of months of work for the students, who work in organized teams to accomplish the required tasks.

“These innovative and hands-on experiences truly inspire students to pursue a higher education, especially in science, technology, math and engineering,” said Carlos Gonzalez, director of MESA School Programs.

The event included three challenges.

During the FIRST LEGO Challenge, robots the students built with LEGOs traversed a course that simulates medical and bioengineering challenges. For example, they positioned a pacemaker inside a heart or apply a stint to a simulated artery. The robots operated autonomously, using computer programs written by the students. Remote controls were not allowed. Winners of the competition qualified for the Southern California championship, held at LEGOLAND near San Diego.

In another challenge, middle school students used the robots they built out of LEGOs to engage in sumo tasks, including bouts between the robots.

During the final challenge, high school students used metallic robots they built that were meant to replicate military drones to destroy targets (balloons) throughout a course, and then in combat against other robots.

The competition included students from the Moreno Valley, Rialto, Jurupa, Riverside and Colton school districts.

MESA is a nationally award-winning program designed to inspire students who come from educationally and/or economically disadvantaged circumstances. It’s open to all students in grades 6 to 12. UCR’s MESA Schools Program serves more than 800 middle school and high school students from Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, N.H., the nonprofit designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

The San Bernardino Community College District has made a concerted effort to institute and promote the mission of FIRST in San Bernardino County.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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