Dear FIRST® Robotics Competition Teams,

I am writing to share the hugely disappointing news that, as a result of the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and at the direction of our host, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the New York Tech Valley Regional on March 11-14 has been postponed out of an abundance of caution and with the health and safety of our community in mind. The new dates for the New York Tech Valley Regional have not yet been set.

We recognize that teams have put an enormous amount of work into preparing for this event and we regret having to share such disappointing news. FIRST® team support can help your team identify alternative events and can be reached at customerservice@firstinspires.org.

As Regional Director, this is difficult news for me to share. I was looking forward to seeing you all, watching you compete and hearing your stories of challenges and success. I know that you are frustrated. I know that you have questions. This is a rapidly evolving situation and we are all doing our best to make decisions that are in everyone’s best interest both on and off the field of play. I promise that I will share information with you as it is shared with me.

Keep building. Keep learning. Keep meeting. Keep inspiring.

Best,

Janice Martino Regional Director, FIRST®

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Many of you have heard before that the Woodie Flowers Award celebrates effective communication in the art and science of engineering and design. What you may not have heard before is that Woodie Flowers, the namesake of this award, was the creator of the original student robotics design competition, in the 1970s, where students in MIT's Two-point-Seven Zero course worked to strategize, build and compete with their robots. Now, four decades later, we can thank Woodie for being the true pioneer in something that has and will continue to change the world.

When Dr. Willam Murphy founded the Woodie Flowers Award in 1996, he sought to celebrate the one mentor who, in the concisely communicated written words of students, demonstrates the leadership, ethical behavior and communication skills exemplified by Woodie. At each Regional event and each District Championship, one mentor will receive the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award. Then, at the Championships in Houston and Detroit, one mentor will be selected from present Finalists and re-nominated past Finalists to receive the 2018 Woodie Flowers Award.

Here's what the team wrote about this mentor:

Her passion for problem-solving, creative thinking and character development helps to ensure that every student that participates is successful in the program. This is indicative of the fact that students on her team have noted that her mentorship helped them to better articulate their interests in engineering and gave them the confidence to pursue it as a career. Her belief that it's not just about building robots, but also about building students, the team and the community around them, exemplifies the spirit of FIRST. At this New York Tech Valley regional event, one such individual is being recognized for her role in co-chairing this event. Her efforts go to ensuring that every team that participates is successful on the field.

As another mentor on this team has said, "She's the main artery in the heart of the team." Congratulations to Ms. Deborah Bigelow-Saulsbery of Team 250!

As co-chair of the Planning Committee, I want to remind you that, much as teams have FIRST activities year round, the planning of this event is a continuous process. We have already requested a week for 2019. And in a few weeks we will meet to review your comments about this event and look to make changes. Yes, we read those comments, so please give us your feedback.

Our Volunteer of the Year Award goes to a person who helped create the planning committee back in 2013 and has been a leader throughout that time. This volunteer consistently is able to problem solve with a calm voice and clear head. Her genuine warmth and love of FIRST is boundless and she brings a smile to all. Often she has stepped in when action was needed and has taken initiative so that you: students, mentors, families and friends, will have the best experience we can offer here at New York Tech Valley.

This past year was particularly challenging for the committee; our previous co-chair had to step down on short notice. Some of us had family issues that forced us to step back for periods of time. Our Volunteer of the Year faced such issues herself and yet stepped up to run the committee meetings, kept us on track and on schedule. And kept her team going strong.

The Volunteer of the Year is our co-chair, the leader of Team 250, Deb Saulsbery!

Awards (2017 Archive)