Coding to victory: middle school students win scholarships to the University of Bridgeport

Winners of state’s first Cyber Robotics Coding Competition win scholarships to the University of Bridgeport
students who won the CCRC robotics challenge

Four middle school students have been awarded scholarships from the University of Bridgeport after winning first and second place at Connecticut’s first Cyber Robotics Coding Competition.

The daylong competition culminated a two-month competition that initially drew 2,912 Connecticut middle school students. Two-member student teams then had to successfully complete coding and robotics challenges in order to advance to the championship round, called the Finals. They were held at the John J. Cox Student Center at the University of Bridgeport on Friday, December 7.

Mark Evans and Shayla Lounsbury from Rochambeau Middle School in Southbury, CT, beat 32 other teams to win first place. Zack Farren and Renee Vas, also from Rochambeau Middle School, came in second. All four students won $1,000 scholarships.

Rochambeau middle school teacher Al Curtis, who advised the four winners, said, "I think the CRCC competition, along with the generous scholarships given as prizes, really helped the students to see how much coding is valued in today's society and how it could turn into a future career path. It was great to see students working collaboratively but in a competitive environment."

College of Engineering, Business, and Education Dean Tarek Sobh said the University "wanted to provide an opportunity for students who are already interested in STEM to have the incentive of a scholarship to pursue a college education when the time comes, and we are so impressed with their hard work."

Sobh awarded the scholarships to the CRCC contestants. He was joined by UB Associate Professor Nancy DeJarnette and Assistant Professor Omar Abuzaghleh, who helped organizers bring  the tournament to campus.

Cyber Robotics Coding Competitions are eight-week online coding and robotics tournaments that are held across the U.S. and internationally for students in grades 5 through 9. Each CRCC is organized in three stages: an initial Boot Camp enables students to learn about coding and robotics by working on 80 virtual lessons, known as online “missions.” The second stage, or Qualifiers, challenges students to earn points for their school teams by successfully completing up to 20 interactive online coding missions. The third stage is called Finals.

The Connecticut CRCC Finals were presented by the University of Bridgeport in partnership with the Connecticut Computer Science Teachers Association, Connecticut Technology and Engineering Education Association, e-STEM Solutions, and Girls Who Code.

Cyber Robotics Coding Competitions are arranged and sponsored by Intelitek STEM and CTE Education Foundation (ISCEF), a non-profit educational foundation.  

Trevor Pope, who runs the CCRC tournaments for Intelitek, said, "The competition in Connecticut was a huge success. I was impressed with the dedication of the 33 competing teams and the active engagement of each competitor Thank you to our sponsor, the University of Bridgeport, for making this event possible."

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625,