New River Robotics Association expands for more STEM to students, open house July 17

The New River Robotics Association location in the VT CRC has more room for three out of the four levels of FIRST robotics and STEM for the community.

Expanding to provide more STEM opportunities to local students, New River Robotics Association, the NRRA, is moving to 2270 Kraft Drive, Suite 1900 and holding an open house from 12:30 – 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17, to show off their new location. A ribbon-cutting will be held at 1:30 p.m.

For seven years, NRRA has sponsored the FIRST Tech Challenge Team 4924 Tuxedo Pandas and provided grants and support to more than 30 FIRST Lego League teams.

At the open house, information will be provided on ways New River Valley kids can be more engaged in science, technology, engineering and math, STEM, skills through workshops and FIRST teams.

FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” FIRST Tech Challenge is a volunteer-supported network of groups all over the country through which kids work together to build a robot, then program autonomous and practice radio-controlled movements to complete missions.

Still in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, the new location will offer more space to learn about tools, basic machining, programming, 3-D printing, computer-aided designing, and of course, robot building.

“The CRC has been for years an ideal location and sponsor of our group of STEM enthusiasts because it naturally promotes the connections between its amazing ecosystem of tech companies and the talent of tomorrow,” NRRA President Franky Marchand said. “Our new shop with its open floor plans and improved layout will make it even more practical to host our many robot projects for kids.”

Building a robot this summer may inspire a desire to join the 2019-2020 robitics team and compete in a worldwide robotics challenge.

The volunteers supporting NRRA are local business leaders dedicated to inspiring young people by engaging them in STEM via robotics competitions, outreach activities, workshops and experiments.

The NRRA will continue to offer volunteer time and energy to promote STEM in the NRV.

Starting July 22nd, Summer Build-Shops will be offered at the new, Kraft Drive location to students in rising grades 7-9 every Monday and Tuesday from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Boys and girls are encouraged to work in teams on a claw grabber game and, possibly, a NERF combat robot.

NRRA will continue to offer assistance to educators and parents who want to be involved in the family of FIRST opportunities.

FIRST Tech Challenge is for students in grades 7-9 to design, build and program a robot with a reusable platform and powered by Android technology programmed by Java or Blocks language.

FIRST Lego League is for grades 4-9 to problem-solve a real world issue and build an autonomous Lego Mindstorms robot to perform a series of missions. FLL Junior is wonderful for kindergarten through fourth grade students to be exposed to the FIRST Core Values while designing and building a model using Lego We-Do motors and sensors to illustrate what has been learned about a STEM theme.

The bigger location is central within Montgomery County and the New River Valley to expand STEM education opportunities.

The 2019-2020 FIRST season starts in September and is titled FIRST Rise, powered by Star Wars: Force for Change. For a second year, NRRA will be helping bring all four levels of FIRST competitions to Montgomery County.

For more information about NRRA, visit

And about FIRST