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3 October, 2018 - 20:17 By Kate Sweeney

Qualcomm STEM support on a different planet!

Team members from US tech giant Qualcomm Technologies International supported a STEM education initiative which is part of the IET FIRST® LEGO® League tournament, by staging a ‘build event’ at the company’s Cambridge offices.

Designed to encourage young people to take an interest in real world issues and develop technology skills, FIRST® LEGO® League is a global science and technology challenge, during which teams of local students aged between 9 and 16 build and programme autonomous robots using a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® kit.  

This year’s theme is INTO ORBIT, and the field mats teams are participating on include a number of different space-themed LEGO® structures, representing different tasks performed by astronauts, space stations and rover bots. Students will be programming their robots to interact with these to complete a variety of missions. 

The Field Mats are made up of many components and ensuring the LEGO® structures are correctly constructed is a critical part of the challenge – similar to real space exploration. If one brick is askew the entire mission could be comprised! 

As hosts to the FIRST® LEGO® League, Qualcomm’s team is responsible for assembling the mats which will be used during the competition. The ‘build event’ allowed over 30 engineering, LEGO® and robotics enthusiasts from Qualcomm’s team to donate their time to painstakingly put together over 90 complex models. 

FIRST® LEGO® League, one of four programmes offered by FIRST, is an annual international competition which sees over 250,000 young people (in 32,000 teams), from across 91 countries, come together to develop their STEM skills. 

Winners of the Cambridge regional tournament will be given the opportunity to progress to the UK and Ireland final in February, and then on to one of three international events, including the World Festival in Detroit, Michigan, April 24-27.

On a local level, Qualcomm’s support includes the provision of free LEGO® kits to eight sponsored teams from deprived areas in the county of Cambridgeshire. 

The Cambridge regional tournament will take place at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering on Tuesday January 15, 2019 and during the event Qualcomm will help mentor the young competitors. 

Seema Webb, director of human resources at Qualcomm Technologies International, said: “Events like this go a long way in encouraging the next generation of engineers and inventors and this is a mission we are very keen to support.”

Registration for the FIRST® LEGO® League 2018-19 season is now open to teams of up to 10 individuals, aged nine to 16. Teams can be school groups, scout groups, or simply a team of friends, but will need at least two adult coaches. Visit: firstlegoleague.theiet.org/registration/fll-registration.cfm

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