My FIRST Robot Competition

I did the coolest thing last weekend, I volunteered as a judge for the FIRST Robotics Competition here in Livonia, Michigan. The short story is Dean Kamen, the guy who is most famous for inventing the Segway (even though his other inventions seem way more interesting) decided that young people should be motivated by Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. So he created this idea of a robot competion. I know right?

So how it works is that high schools across the country make robots to compete against a certain goal. This year’s contest is called the Ultimate Ascent. The idea is that the robot not only shoots discs for points, at the end of the challenge for the max points it needs to ascend a pyramid. Check out the video, this is not an easy task.

My job was to judge the regional competitions, the winners would go on to the State champtionships, and from there, move on to the Nationals.

So … high schools, competing, with robots … count me in …

And to my luck, I even met a student at Code Red Robotics who know what Ubuntu was, here’s his picture:

I am really glad I got to learn what FIRST was. It is amazing to see what high school kids can come up with. When I was in High School my idea of “awesome” was a SEGA Genesis, and if lucky, I got to be in the Science Olympiad. Meanwhile these kids are making robots capable of shooting disks at over 65 miles an hour.

On top of that as a judge I got to meet some pretty amazing people. People from General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, and Nissan, as well as other companies, I am really proud to be included with such accomplished engineers.

Over the next few days I will post videos from the competition, it gets pretty brutal to watch robots compete; and to me this is the best part, FIRST isn’t just a kid version of a robotic reality show, it has built in governance, with a concept of Gracious Professionalism. So it’s just not about building great robots, it’s about driving kids towards a greater good over elementary, junior high, and high schools.

Wanna get in on FIRST? It’s all over the US, get started here: