CORVALLIS, Ore. - The second annual "FIRST Tech Challenge" qualifying tournament, in which high school students design, build and compete with their robots against other teams, will be held Saturday, Feb. 19, at Oregon State University.

The event is part of a larger national competition that ultimately involves thousands of students across the nation. This qualifier will be at the Kelley Engineering Center on the OSU campus, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

"Last year's event at OSU attracted hundreds of participants and spectators, and was a really successful competition," said Jonathan Hurst, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at OSU and expert in robotics. "Preparing for this competition, we've been able to build on our experience, and I hope it will be even better."

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, is a national initiative sponsored by a wide range of companies and organizations to inspire young students to pursue careers in science and engineering. In this challenge, students work from a robotics kit to design, build and program autonomous robots that can perform various tasks and are based on sound engineering principles.

Teams of up to 10 students each are aided by coaches and volunteers, and winners can qualify for more than $7 million in college scholarships. In a competitive game the robots will navigate with sensors, manipulate small objects, travel over uneven surfaces and perform other tasks. Teams will be judged on technical knowledge, team interaction and spirit.

This year's qualifying event at OSU is being organized by the OSU Robotics Club. More information on the program and event can be obtained online at

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Jonathan Hurst, 541-737-7010