First Robotics
March 8, 2007 2:40 PM   Subscribe

The FIRST ("For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology") robotics competition has recently begun it's 2007 competition season. The competition, which began and still enjoys it's greatest popularity in the United States, challenges high-school students and mentors to design and build a (teleoperated) robot to play a game in six weeks. Founded by Dean Kamen, of segway, IBOT, the first home dialysis machine, and clean drinking water fame founded the competition in 1988 to inspire students to enter the engineering profession. Every year a new challenge is put forth, and this year's game involves placing inner-tubes on a cylindrical rack in addition to lifting other team's robots. A sizeable community has sprung up around FIRST, with much attention paid to Dean Kamen's ideal of gracious professionalism which is like sportsmanship without the sports. The 2007 regional competitions provide teams an opportunity to show off their work. If you're interested in getting involved, or just watching the events, FIRST provides a handy Event Locator.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms (14 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Great post! This is my first year of being a mentor for a FIRST team. You can check out my pictures from the Portland regionals here.

My team (#488) is specializing in lifting two robots 12" off the ground.
posted by Diddly at 2:52 PM on March 8, 2007

I watched the FIRST competition at Eastern Michigan's Convocation Center about five years ago, and it's one of the most energizing events I've ever attended. The house was packed to the rafters. Everybody was in great spirits cheering each other on. It was louder than some rock concerts I've been to.

My dad's been a mentor for years and will be in Pittsburgh this weekend with his team.
posted by ardgedee at 3:15 PM on March 8, 2007

I'm an alumni of martinX's team. I'd really encourage MeFites to get involved, it's really the most worthwhile organization I've ever personally been involved in. It's also very, very, fun for people all over the nerd spectrum.
posted by phrontist at 3:44 PM on March 8, 2007

It's worth it to note that First also has a Lego League; you know, for the kids. My son took part in this year's Wisconsin tournament, and his team actually placed for the first time, where in prior years they'd ended up dead last.
posted by thanotopsis at 5:24 PM on March 8, 2007

There's also the Vex competition, which is similar to FRC but on a much smaller scale.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 5:33 PM on March 8, 2007

I went to a FIRST LEGO League event in Austin a couple of months ago, and it was surprisingly entertaining and a little intense. The kids had great team names (King Dudes; Crouching Squirrel, Hidden Acorn). There was one team, the Robo Queenz, of nearly all girls. There was one boy, and he had a feather boa.
posted by lunalaguna at 5:43 PM on March 8, 2007

There are actually quite a few all-girl teams, and more than you'd expect are gender balanced.
posted by phrontist at 5:56 PM on March 8, 2007

Diddly: I told my team to do the double lifter bot, but did they listen... noooooo. I predict it will be a highly successful design this year, very desirable during alliance picks.
posted by phrontist at 5:57 PM on March 8, 2007

Phrontist: Have you been following the early competitions? Loads of teams have attempted the double lifter bots and very few have been all that successful. We went to VCU to watch the tournament and I only say one team (2180) that could earn the 60 points consistently. Also, only one lifter per alliance is useful, so an arm-bot is more likely to have a job. I think we made the right choice this year. And our holonomic drive is awesome. (the video doesn't do it justice, but it can drive in any direction and spin on its axis)
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 6:07 PM on March 8, 2007

I'm an alumnus, and now I'm on the same campus as the Chesapeake Regional. No way I'm going to miss it.
posted by wtdoor at 7:55 PM on March 8, 2007

I still get email updates about these guys.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:15 PM on March 8, 2007

Hooray for the Vex kits! Thanks to them, a few students at Georgia Tech have been able to set up a mini-competition for a few area high schools that have neither the funds nor the expertise to compete in the big competitions...yet!
posted by solotoro at 9:51 PM on March 8, 2007

I was at the VCU competition too - it was great! I end up getting so emotional about the kids that participate - they're not the cool kids at school, but they have quirky talents and skills of their own - they will be our world leaders, I'm sure of it.
posted by crepeMyrtle at 7:33 AM on March 9, 2007

Team 1216 woot!
posted by kc8nod at 7:36 AM on March 9, 2007

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