Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania provide funds to send local robotics team to the FIRST World Championship


Philadelphia, April 15, 2015 –  Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania have contributed $20,000 each to send the Central High School RoboLancers, the magnet school’s student-run robotics program, to St. Louis (April 22-25) to compete at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) World Championship, a national robotics design, building and programming competition. 


“When I learned that these incredible young people, who have worked hard and earned the opportunity to compete at the World Championship, might not have the chance to travel to St. Louis and showcase their incredible, innovative work because of a lack of funding, I couldn’t stand idle.  I called Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania, two great partners and major supporters of STEM-centric initiatives, and I am proud to say that they stepped up to the challenge of helping these deserving Philadelphia students,” said Mayor Nutter.  “Our Administration is committed to promoting and supporting STEM education programs that encourage young people to learn new things, get involved and consider STEM careers as part of their future.  I want to congratulate the RoboLancers and wish them well at the World Championship.”


President of Drexel University John Fry said, “The RoboLancers inspire young people across Philadelphia to believe they can compete in any arena.  These students are outstanding problem solvers and reflect great credit on the city, and Drexel University is honored to help them get to St. Louis.”


University of Pennsylvania President Amy Guttman said, “We are absolutely delighted to aid the students at Central High so they can pursue this very exciting challenge.  The University of Pennsylvania is one of the world leaders in robotics, and we hope we will be seeing some of these great students on our campus in the years ahead.”


For the FIRST World Championship, teams have six weeks to design and build a 120-pound robot from scratch.  The robots then compete in a variety of tasks.


“We are deeply appreciative of the generosity shown to the Central High School RoboLancers,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent of The School District of Philadelphia. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students as they explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts. Many thanks to Mayor Nutter for his continued support of the School District and our students, and congratulations to the RoboLancers.”


The RoboLancers are one of 609 FIRST Robotics Competition Teams to advance to the World Championship.  The team was one of two selected from 122 competing in the Mid-Atlantic Region, winning the Chairman’s Award, which is the FIRST competition’s highest honor and is awarded to the team that most exemplifies the spirit of FIRST and its work to promote science and technical education among high school students.


“The core mission of the RoboLancers is to inspire Philadelphia students of all ages to explore and study STEM fields,” said RoboLancers coach Michael B. Johnson. “The outpouring of support from individuals and organizations around the city that we have received this week shows the community’s overwhelming endorsement of our efforts.”


The RoboLancers, an extra-curricular activity that receives no funding from the School District of Philadelphia, raised $30,000 this year to fund its annual budget.  To compete in the World Championship, the team needed to raise an additional $35,000. 


“We are so appreciative that Mayor Nutter has worked with the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University to fund the Central High School Robolancers trip to the Robotics World Championships in St. Louis,” said Timothy J. McKenna, President, Central High School. “This is a life-changing event for our students who have worked tirelessly to qualify for this competition. The RoboLancers team is made up of the next generation of STEM leaders. These students are deeply committed to science, mathematics and promoting careers in the STEM fields.”





The RoboLancers champion science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in our public schools and have become a shining example of what students in a challenging urban setting can do when given the opportunity. Since its founding in 1999, the RoboLancers have grown from five students to a multi-faceted program of more than 112 students. It is now the largest extracurricular activity at Central High School, one of Philadelphia’s most academically rigorous public magnet schools.


FIRST Robotics Competition

Dubbed a varsity Sport for the Mind,™(FRC) combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to “real world” engineering as a student can get. Professional Mentors volunteer their time and talents to guide each team.

Posted in Mayor's Press Releases, Press Release
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