ASME Foundation Sponsors Local High School in 2014 FIRST Robotics Competition — Update

Jan 15, 2014

Gretchen Crutchfield (third from left), development and special projects specialist for the ASME Foundation, presents a $5,000 check to faculty members and students from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. The ASME Foundation is sponsoring the school's robotics team during the 2014 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition season.

Before the holiday season and New Year’s celebrations began, representatives from the ASME Foundation paid a visit to Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., to present a check in support of the school’s robotics team, the Crimson Tide Engineers. The Foundation is sponsoring the team during the2014 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition, which begins its regional tournaments in March.

Twenty students from the Dr. Charles Drew STEM Academy — a nationally recognized Pre-Engineering program housed as a small learning community within the larger high school — gathered in their school’s newly built auditorium to listen to Gretchen Crutchfield of the ASME Foundation speak directly to the students and staff about the Foundation’s commitment to supporting K-12 students and their involvement in engineering-based activities. During her comments, Crutchfield also encouraged more students to consider engineering as a career option. After the event, the Foundation learned that their STEM Academy enrollment numbers had recently declined. For this reason, the Foundation views their support of the Dunbar team as even more crucial to send a strong message about the value of engineering.

The Crimson Tide Engineers will be competing in the 2014 robotics competition alongside 2,720 teams comprised of an estimated 68,000 high school students. At 98 regional events nationwide, they will all compete in a game called “Aerial Assist” (, in which alliances of three teams work together in directing their robots to score as many goals as possible during a two-minute and 30-second match. All robots will be assembled within the next 6 weeks from a common kit of parts sent by FIRST. The kit typically weighs about 150 lbs. The Dunbar team plans on using the VEX design system to build their robot, and RobotC and National Instruments Lab View to program it.

The costs to compete in the 2014 FIRST Robotics competition include a fee of up to $6,000 to compete in one regional event, a $4,000 fee for each additional regional event, and a $5,000 fee to take part in the Championship event in St. Louis, Mo. In addition to the entry fees, teams are expected to pay for their lodging and transportation costs; shop, tools, additional parts and construction materials; practice field components; and computers and software. Teams often also need to find their own mentors. Dunbar’s entry fee for the D.C. regional event ( was graciously paid for by the Washington D.C. Public School system. The ASME Foundation’s support will go toward making sure that the Crimson Tide Engineers have everything they need to make it to the Championships in St. Louis, which will take place April 23-26.

While Dunbar has three of their most dedicated teachers leading the team, they have expressed a strong interest in finding a real-world engineer to help further instruct the students and serve as a mentor. If you are located in the local D.C. area and would be interested in volunteering your engineering expertise to the Crimson Tide Engineers, please contact D?ra Nagy, ASME Foundation, at

- D?ra Nagy, ASME Foundation