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UT’s College of Engineering has long been a supporter of FIRST Robotics Competitions (FRC), but it’s now taking the support to a new level.

The college recently became a Bronze Level sponsor for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) by pledging $20,000 in scholarships to participating high school students. These scholarships will support up to five students each year for a total of four years.

“FIRST has been a great way for us to encourage students in STEM fields and engage them in a manner that is fun while being educational,” said Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Masood Parang.

“In turn, those students are exposed to our College of Engineering and the opportunities that exist for them here.”

UT’s level of commitment now provides access to several aspects of FIRST competitions.

Those advantages include global exposure, the ability to use college and university logos in FIRST publications, and sponsorship booths at the events themselves.

The annual FRC Smoky Mountains Regional event is held in Knoxville every spring and attracts nearly 4,000 students, parents, teachers, mentors, volunteers, and observers to the area.

This event not only impacts the Knoxville economy but also provides a great opportunity for more than fifteen local FRC teams to compete with other high school teams from across the nation.

For UT faculty and staff, it provides an opportunity to mingle with students and talk about the latest trends in STEM education.

“Our sponsorship of this program affords us a great chance to interact with the high school students, teach them about engineering and the University of Tennessee, and give them tours of our labs and facilities,” said Parang.

L.J. Robinson, USFIRST regional director for Tennessee, said the program gives students a chance to learn about teamwork and project management as well as science and technology.

“Encouraging young minds is what this competition is all about,” said Robinson.



David Goddard (865-974-0683,