AI News, Robo-girls Redux: Sacramento Semifinals

Robo-girls Redux: Sacramento Semifinals

The Activities and Recreation Center on the UC Davis campus is filled with the sounds of electric motors, ripping carpet, clanging metal, and screaming fans.

It's 31 March 2007 at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics' Sacramento/Davis regional competition [Click here to read the second story in this series.], and a lone all-girl team is in the semifinal alliance, hoping to prove they're among the best of 39 teams.

(Fembots spend a lot of time recruiting: during the regional competition, members regularly led invited groups of middle schoolers on tours of the pits and playing field.) The Fembots started designing Charlie the Robot in January 2007 after a thorough examination of the 2007 rule changes, which led them to divide robotic functions into the 'must-haves' and the merely 'nice-to-haves.'

Robots place rings on a scoring rack in the center of the field to earn a point, and any team that can use a robot to lift a partner robot 30 centimeters above the field scores a bonus of 30 points.

During qualification matches, the members of the teams allied with the Fembots hurriedly tossed rings over the wall, exposing a design weakness in Charlie: the robot couldn't pick up rings from the ground but instead had to be hand-loaded.

But the opposing alliance lent the team a spare chain-nobody here wanting to win by default-and the alliance of the Wildcats of Woodside [Calif.], the Spartan Robotics of Corvallis [Ore.] High School, and the Danvillans of Monte Vista High School, Danville, Calif., won the final game of the match on a borrowed chain.

How To Get Girls Into Engineering? Let Them Build Robots

St. Francis High School’s robotics team, the Fembots, see the gender gap in engineering as an opportunity, not a problem.

Every year the teams design their robots to compete in a different game, with challenges unique to each season.

“I like being a part of robotics because it allows me to challenge myself, and push my limits and learn more about engineering,”

“It’s an awesome feeling to go out there, and show people watching, and show the teenage boys that we can do this, too, and we’re just as good at it - it’s just really validating.”

The students put in long hours and late nights for six weeks building their robot.

Oliveros says these treads help give their robot a competitive advantage when traversing the dynamic terrains on the field.

“That night in the hotel room we made carbon fiber tubes to replace our aluminum tubes on the robot,”

Win or lose, the Fembots designed and built a robot in six weeks that can traverse bumpy terrain, throw boulders and scale towers.

Strawn says he’s really excited about the life skills each student takes away from being in the robotics program.

“It’s more than just building a robot, it’s problem-solving, it’s critical thinking, it’s collaboration and communication - there are so many skills that go into it.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Jay,, Chef Homaro Cantu, Dean Kamen, and Congressman Chaka Fattah Root for Robotics Matches as 12,000 Students from 32 Countries and Their Robots Compete in International Robotics Championship, April 25-28 MANCHESTER, N.H., April 28, 2012 ― Over the weekend, 30,000 participants, fans, families, educators and industry leaders celebrated students’ engineering and robotics prowess at the annual FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship, held in St. Louis, Mo., at the Edward Jones Dome.

A not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST strives to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.     This year,, pop superstar, was on hand to kick off the week-long event, meet teams, and take part in a ceremony and a new innovation competition, “Wouldn’t It Be Cool If” sponsored by Time Warner Cable, a FIRST Strategic Sponsor.

Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams are challenged to fundraise, design a brand, exercise teamwork, and build and program robots to perform tasks against competitors.    This year’s FRC challenge was “Rebound RumbleSM,” where matches are played between two Alliances of three teams each.

This year’s FTC challenge was “BOWLED OVER!™” Using a combination of motors, controllers, wireless communications, metal gears, and sensors, including infrared tracking (IR) and magnet seeking, students program their robots to operate in both autonomous and driver-controlled modes on a field that includes two home zones with a platform and a ramp, and two protected zones.

Other FTC awards included: FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) World Festival – FLL introduces younger children to real-world engineering challenges by conducting research projects and building LEGO-based autonomous robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface.  FLL teams, guided by their imaginations, discover exciting career possibilities and learn to make positive contributions to society.

This year’s challenge, Food Factor®, engaged kids to explore the exciting world of Food Safety through hands-on, minds-on teamwork.  In the FOOD FACTOR® Challenge, teams will build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT to solve a set of food safety missions as well as research, develop, and share their innovative solutions to improve the world’s current food preparation processes.      Top honors went to Champion’s Award 1st Place winner, Team 15650, Falcons Japan, Tokyo, Japan;

Guided by coaches, students work with LEGO elements to create solutions and present them for review.     In this year’s Jr.FLL Challenge, SNACK ATTACKSM, teams took a hands-on approach to the topic of food safety by examining the ingredients in their favorite snack food and then learning about how to properly prepare and store it to prevent contamination.

With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and nearly $15 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST®Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST®Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for high-school students, FIRST®LEGO® League (FLL® ) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST®LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for 6 to 9-year-olds.

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