FIRST Robotics Competition Engages Minnesota High School Students in Engineering & Business

by Peter Beacom

From March 31 – April 2nd, teams from high schools across the state (and beyond) will converge at the University of Minnesota for the FIRST Robotics Competition.

FIRST — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — was founded by Dean Kamen over twenty years ago with the admirable goal “To create a world where science and technology are celebrated… where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes.”

A kickoff event for Minnesota’s 2011 competition was held at Northrup Memorial Auditorium at the University of Minnesota in January, when rules were established and component kits provided, from which teams were to design and construct robots over the next six weeks.  The local event draws over 150 unique groups predominantly from Minnesota, but also across the mid-west, including: Illinois, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.

This year’s competition involves using machines to collect inflated tubes of various shapes and assembling them into a depiction of the FIRST logo.  Additionally, a pole climbing robot race is also being held, for which the students are allowed to work on throughout the season.