UNC Asheville Hosts FIRST Robotics Competition March 19-20

First Robotics GLITCH 02
Team GLITCH members Josh Lyons, Chris Otten, Jonathan Kayne and Caleb Pohlman.

(Staff Reports) UNC Asheville will host the North Carolina District FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition on campus from March 19-20 in Kimmel Arena in UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center. Twenty-five teams of high school students from North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire will assemble on campus to engage in a field competition with industrial-sized robots, which they have built and programmed themselves. The competition is free and open to the public.

Competition begins with the opening ceremonies at 10:30 a.m., and continues until 7:30 p.m. onSaturday, March 19. The event resumes on Sunday, March 20 with opening ceremonies at 10 a.m., more robotics competition, and an awards ceremony from 5-6:30 p.m.

Under strict rules, limited resources and an intense six-week time limit, student teams are challenged to raise funds, design a team brand, hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors.

First Robotics GLITCH“In the stands, in the pit, in and around the field, there’s not going to be a quiet space of the Sherrill Center,” said Joseph Caswell, a UNC Asheville mechatronics student and team mentor. “It’s going be full of noise, of robots smashing up against the wall and fans cheering and teams just giving their all.”

Winning teams earn the right to compete in the FIRST North Carolina State Championship, held at UNC Charlotte April 9-10.

For more information, contact Neil Rosenberg, lecturer in engineering at UNC Asheville, at828.250.3986 or nrosenbe@unca.edu.

I must be out of touch…

2016 Election Commentary by Matt Mittan

3-16-16 114For the Primary election in North Carolina, as an unaffiliated voter, I print out the sample ballots of each Party and then check off all of the candidates that I like and that I think would be good public servants, from the Presidential race right here to the local level. Once I’ve done that, whichever sample ballot has the most check marks on it, I declare that Party as the Primary I will vote in. Then, when the results come in I compare them to all my sample ballot selections.

In my district, out of all the Parties, there were 77 candidates to choose from. In total, I checked off only nine names. Out of the nine I checked off, only 2 won. That’s the lowest ratio I’ve ever had but is pretty typical of how it’s been trending for me over the past 10-15 years. Now, this could leave some people feeling a bit isolated or disenfranchised but then I look at the performance, ethics and accountability of our political institutions over that same time-frame and I at least have the comfort of knowing… 1) I didn’t help put these people in office. 2) Maybe, just maybe, I actually know a better path and have a more reliable sense of character than do the majority of my voting neighbors.

The path that the Political Parties, and the people who fall under their spells, have led us down is a path to ruin. Voting for more pumped up versions of the same old formula will only make things worse. As for me, I’m down to just two people, out the entire electoral process – from Local to State to Federal – that I feel I can vote FOR. If this downward trend continues, I’ll be left with only two options. 1) Not vote at all, or; 2) Run for office myself. Neither of those options sound very good to me.

So how about we try something else? Why don’t we break the partisan hold over elections? Reject Party affiliation as part of registering to vote or participating in the electoral process. Lets have truly open voting in the primaries, where we all vote for the best of all the candidates – regardless of Party. No more voting for the best of half or against the worst of them all. Let’s get the money out of politics so that more people can consider public service as a viable option. And lets take away the incentive to make politics a career by removing all perks and retirement plans for elected offices.

I want my vote to mean something again. I want public service to be revered as a noble effort again. And above all, I want us to be unified around the idea that our Constitutional Republic, and its institutions, are above the fray, where we all have an equal seat at the table of respectful discourse. But then again, maybe these ideals and desires are as out of touch with today’s voting population as my selections on my ballot seem to be.

Matt Mittan is a long time broadcaster based out of Asheville, NC. http://www.MattMittan.com

Kids Give Up Playtime to Learn Sign Language for Deaf Classmate

sign-language-class(Good News Network) These fifth graders are learning sign language and the reason why speaks volumes about their character. Students at a Peoria, Illinois school give up recess every Wednesday so they can learn sign language just to better communicate with a deaf classmate — Rhemy Elsey.  The kids formed an American Sign Language club and practice their skills with Rhemy and an instructor. Rhemy has cochlear implants, but still relies on signing for much of his ability to communicate with others. He’s been overwhelmed by the willingness of classmates to give up free time just so they can learn to carry on conversations with him.

See a video and read more HERE>

Smoke and mirrors: the death of tobacco in WNC

h786-8-1100x823(Mountain XPress) Few crops have been as central to North Carolina’s economy and culture — or as controversial — as tobacco. Historically, its high market value and the relative ease of growing it made tobacco a staple for many Western North Carolina farmers. As late as 2002, 1,995 mountain farms grew tobacco. The crop’s prevalence, however, was closely tied to the long-standing quota system, which regulated where it could be grown and set a guaranteed price range each year.

Significant government involvement with the industry began during the Great Depression, but changing times and social attitudes eventually caught up with the program. Increasing health concerns and lawsuits ultimately led to the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, which restricted tobacco advertising and gave states substantial payments to offset Medicare expenses and fund anti-smoking programs. In conjunction with other changes, this accelerated a continuing decline in sales of American-grown tobacco.

Read the full report, including a history of the crop in NC, HERE>

Famous waving granny gets huge Valentine’s surprise

5-waving-valentine(CHEK News) “It’s just a lovely thing to do and I think it brings a strong sense of community that’s really needed,” says Highland Secondary student Jessica Baldwin.

The Comox Valley students — armed with heart bouquets made from milk jugs — decided to embark on a very special Valentine’s surprise for Tinney Davidson.

The 86-year-old Comox woman is best known as the waving granny, for her waves and warm smiles at kids walking by her house on the way to school.

“I think now everyone does it out of habit — it’s weird not to,” says Highland student Benjamin Coats.

Watch a video report HERE>

Cam defends Super Bowl media walkout: ‘I’m a sore loser’

635906155055833701-usp-nfl-super-bowl-50-carolina-panthers-vs-denver-79503686(USA Today) A defiant Cam Newton addressed reporters for the first time since the Carolina Panthers’ MVP quarterback walked out of news conference minutes after his team fell to the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl 50 on Sunday. “I’ve been on the record saying that I’m a sore loser,”  Newton told reporters at the team’s practice facility in Charlotte on Tuesday. “Who likes to lose? You show me a good loser and I’m going to show you a loser. It’s not a popularity contest. I am here to win football games.”

Added Newton: “I have said it since Day 1. I am who I am. I know what I’m capable of and I know where I am going. If you want me to conform, I’m not that guy. If you want me to be that type of person, I’m not that. I am happy to say that. This league is a great league with or without me. I understand that. I am my own person. I take pride in that.”

Read the full story HERE>

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