News and Views from Dave Wilson

Archive for March 1st, 2009

FIRST Robotics Competition

by on Mar.01, 2009, under Computer, Miscellaneous

You have probably noticed that it’s been a bit quiet around here this week. Since Wednesday, I’ve been up in Cleveland, Ohio attending the FIRST Robotics Competition Buckeye Regional. Luminary Micro, my employer, supplied the motor speed controller units that the teams received in this year’s kit of parts so we had representatives at all the competitions this week to make sure that things ran smoothly. I’m very glad to say that they ran very well in Cleveland with only a single failure that needed replacement during the 3 days of matches.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) organisation was founded by Dean Kamen (of Segway fame) to “transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes.” and, as far as I can see, it is doing an outstanding job. The competitive side of the program is completely secondary – yes, you get to compete against 60 or so other teams at a regional like this but the really important part of being there is to meet the other teams, exchange ideas and help out the rookies (and anyone else needing material or expertise that you can provide). They call it “coopetition” and it breed a wonderful atmosphere at the events. The program strives to promote “gracious professionalism” where competitors respect each other and chest slapping and victory dances are definitely not allowed.

I had a whale of a time at the competition and will definitely be looking for more ways to stay involved with FIRST. If you have an interesting in promoting science and technology in education, you could do a great deal worse than check these folks out.

Here are a few snaps to give you a feel for the event. I should point out that the game the robots were designed for involves getting balls into trailers towed behind your opponents.


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