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Fred Agnir
01-24-2003, 10:35 AM
It's that time of year again for me, as the USFIRST Robotics program has started up.

http://www.usfirst.org

For those of you who don't know, the yearly competition pits high school students and adult technical mentors against other schools across the country (and now the world) in building a remote control competing robot. This program pre-dates Battlebots, as Battlebots was started by some that were in the USFirst program, IIRC. The computer platform is the same, so the robots are similar size. The programs founder is Dean Kaman, inventor of the much ballyhooed Ginger self-propelled scooter.

The first year of competition in 1992, there were 27 teams. Our little school and company won the inaugural event against other engineering giants. Today there are over 1000 teams, including teams from England and Germany, as well as Brazil and Canada. NASA sponsors over 100 teams.

The FIRST program is absolutely the best program for students aspiring to go into the technical fields. The competition energy is higher than most high school sporting events. This isn't like a math club meet. Regional competitions take place at over 20 venues this year. If there's one near you, I encourage you to take a look.

In past years, the national championship event was held at Disney's Epcott Center. This year, it will be at Houston's Reliant Park. Hope to see you there.

A 4MB low res mpeg movie demonstrating this year's game can be found at:

http://robotics.nasa.gov/StackAttack.mpeg

Regards,

Fred Agnir