AI News, FIRST Robotics Competition Kicks Off Worldwide

FIRST Robotics Competition Kicks Off Worldwide

On January 9, at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, in Brooklyn, 37 area high school teams joined hundreds of other teams via satellite feed to find out what this year's FIRST robotics challenge would be.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a high school robotics competition founded 18 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen, who wanted to use the sports and entertainment model to get kids excited about science and technology.

For the next six weeks, more than 1800 high school teams from 12 countries—including 278 first-time teams—will work with a kit that includes motors, batteries, a control system, a PC, and various other components.

After a good hour and a half of speeches (with kids getting understandably fidgety toward the end), this year's game, called Breakaway, was revealed.

It's about building confidence, solving problems, working as a team, expanding career opportunities, and growing relationships with adult mentors.

To emphasize gracious professionalism, the top FIRST award, called the Chairman's Award, goes not to the last robot standing but to the team that has the most community impact, whether by mentoring rookie teams, working with younger students on robotics projects, or increasing awareness of science and technology in its local community.

Team vice president Matt Wong, a junior, found FIRST on a Web site, then joined up with junior Connor Yamada, team president, who has been working on a robotics hobby club for the past couple of years.

The students wrote grants, got parents involved, and took on a FIRST alum, who is a current NYU math student, as an additional advisor.

They'd been mulling over clues rationed out before the kickoff, trying to determine if this year's robot would require pressure sensors, hinges, pneumatics, or none of the above.

Team captain Qurat-ul-ain Ali, who plans to become a biomedical engineer, says that while last year her team decided to build a defending robot, this year they want to go on the offensive.

The team's 30-odd girls were ready to meet at their cocaptain's house after the kickoff to discuss the problem and decide their basic design by Monday.

That would maximize their time for building and testing, as well as give them time to 'scout' other teams, finding weaknesses they could exploit or potential allies they might want to invite into their alliance.

After working on smaller-scale Lego robotics projects in middle school, Ali started participating in FIRST during her freshman year of high school.

The girls have been building small robots and programming so far, Lala says, but 'they saw all these 5-foot, 100-pound robots running around, and they wanted to make their own.

All About High School Robotics

Becoming more familiar with robotics can lay the foundation for a career at the cutting edge of science, or at very least, a better understanding of the ways technology can be used to solve real-world problems.

In general, robotics is the field concerned with the construction, programming, and use of robots, specialized machines designed to perform certain tasks that humans assign.

Robots can go places that humans can’t, such as the crushing depths of the ocean or the toxic interior of a nuclear reactor, to help humans avoid the health risks of dangerous situations.

Across the globe, you’ll find groups of young people engaged in extracurriculars and after-school activities in which they work as teams to build, program, and use robots.

Programs like BattleBots, in which teams build robots and guide them in combat with each other, have become particularly popular for the way they combine interesting technical skills with drama and excitement.

At the simplest level, high school clubs, after-school programs, and community groups (such as Boy and Girl Scout troops) can teach the relevant skills and background knowledge while allowing students to experiment and gain hands-on experience.

Typically, if you join a competitive robotics team or club, you’ll work collaboratively with a group of other students to build, program, and use a robot in competitive settings.

Robotics competitions open to high school students exist on a variety of different levels, from local or regional contests to national or international conferences that may require travel.

In addition to the glory of victory, participants in VEX competitions can earn trophies and awards, either for winning matches or for excelling at particular aspects of the competition, such as design.

VEX puts on over 750 competitions per year, from local contests to world championships, and award possibilities depend on the local group that’s hosting a particular tournament.

As the Washington Post reported, competitors at the FIRST Global Challenge not only flexed their engineering skills, but used their shared interest to bridge cultural and political gaps as they worked and competed side by side.

FIRST Robotics Competition

Each year, teams of high school students, coaches, and mentors work during a six-week period to build game-playing robots that weigh up to 120 pounds (54 kg).[7] Robots complete tasks such as scoring balls into goals, flying discs into goals, inner tubes onto racks, hanging on bars, and balancing robots on balance beams.

In addition to on-field competition, teams and team members competed for awards recognizing entrepreneurship, creativity, engineering, industrial design, safety, controls, media, quality, and exemplifying the core values of the program.

Kamen has stated that FIRST is the invention he feels most proud of, and predicts that participants will be responsible for significant technological advances in years to come.[10] The first FIRST Robotics Competition season was in 1992 and had one event at a high school gymnasium in New Hampshire.[11] That first competition was relatively small-scale, similar in size to today's FIRST Tech Challenge and Vex Robotics Competition games.

The PBS documentary 'Gearing Up' followed four teams through the 2008 season.[17] In the television series Dean of Invention, Dean Kamen made appeals promoting FIRST prior to commercial breaks.[18] During the 2010 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST team 3132, Thunder Down Under, was followed by a Macquarie University student film crew to document the first year of FIRST Robotics Competition in Australia.

The program placed a special focus on the FIRST Robotics competition, even though it included segments on the FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST LEGO League, and FIRST LEGO League Jr..[citation needed] For the 2013 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, five FIRST Robotics Competition teams and their robots led the parade, with one robot cutting the ribbon and the others shooting confetti.[26][27] In the 2014 movie Transformers: Age of Extinction, a FIRST Robotics Competition Robot built by Team 2468, Team Appreciate, for the 2012 Season was featured in Cade Yeager's garage shooting the foam basketball game pieces from Rebound Rumble.[28] The 2015 Kickoff was, for the first time, broadcast by NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast, and was available via OnDemand for the month of January 2015.[29] The fourth season of The Fosters (2013 TV series) had several episodes featuring characters competing in a regional FIRST Robotics Competition competition, most notably episode 8 'Girl Code'.[30]

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