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NY1 covers the "Connect A Million Minds" initiative, a five-year philanthropic program by parent company Time Warner Cable to inspire students to pursue learning opportunities and careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Connect A Million Minds: High School Robotics Team Enjoy Their Own "March Madness" At Javits Center

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TWC News: High School Robotics Team Enjoy Their Own "March Madness" At Javits Center
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It is a whole different ball game at Manhattan's Jacob Javits Center, where students from area schools and beyond gathered for the annual FIRST Robotics Regionals Competition, which stems from Time Warner Cable's "Connect A Million Minds" educational initiative. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.

It's "March Madness" of sorts at the Jacob Javits Center on Manhattan's West Side, but robots are holding court and students are calling the shots, as part of this year's FIRST Robotics Regional Competition.

"It's exciting. A lot of people don't notice it, they're like, 'That's only for nerds.' It's really not, it's like awesome," says Gabriel Mustell of the Diatonic Carbonites, Team 4071.

Nearly 200 high school robotics teams tinkered with their bots working with teachers and mentors inside NASCAR-like pits Saturday.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, provides the parts needed to construct the high-tech athletes for this year's various challenges that included robots shooting hoops.

"FIRST celebrates technology and engineering and lets students see that its fun," says NYC FIRST Regional Director Pat Daly.

"It's definitetly something that takes a lot of hours and a lot of commitment and a lot of preparation," says Noah Dropkin of Botman, Team 4809.

For Maria Ramos of the Warriors of East Harlem, Team 1880, she can't imagine doing anything else and now plans to pursue mechanical engineering.

"At first I was like, robotics, eh. And then like, after a while, like the process of building the robot, it's intense," says Maria. "You learn a lot but it's very fun. It's stressful at the same time."

The students don't have to look far for inspiration, as many of the mentors are former FIRST alums who are now turning their passion into a career.

"Everything started off with robotics. Robotics helped me pick my major, I'm going for architecture technology at NYC College of Technology," says Sandeep Singh, a mentor. "I just love doing it, it's my favorite hobby."

Winners from this weekend advance to finals set to take place in St. Louis the end of April.

For information on other initiatives designed to engage kids in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), visit connectamillionminds.com to learn more about the efforts of NY1's parent company, Time Warner Cable.

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