Posts Tagged ‘Championship

02
May
11

FIRST Championships – FIRST is changing the world

It was a great year at the FIRST Championships in St Louis. This was my first time to volunteer at the FIRST Robotics World Championships. Between FLL, FTC, and FRC there were 29 countries represented.

Honestly, one of the most stirring things that happened was at the airport as I was leaving. I was waiting in the Security line and the teacher for an Israeli team was talking to gentlemen who just happen to be on the board of directors at FIRST. I overheard her say that they, the Israeli team, thought the whole world hatted the Israeli’s but at the FIRST competition, everyone welcomed them, were friendly, and worked together on their robots. There was no hatred, only Gracious Professionalism. It was a different experience for them and it was because of FIRST. FIRST is changing the world! FIRST doesn’t only stand for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” It also stands for “Forwarding International Relationships through Science and Technology”.

At the competition, I believe all had a good time and everyone came away a winner…some just had metals to show it. The competition went well; there were quite a few rookie teams there who had a great experience just being there. I know that FIRST rookie teams 3507 (Ubotics) and 3481 (BroncoBotz, FIRST Senior Mentor Mike Henry’s team) did pretty well, learned a lot, and had fun. They both plan on being back next year.

There was a concert given by the Black Eyed Peas and Willow Smith, Will Smiths Daughter. None of my pictures of that turned out because of the Dark Arena and Bright lights on stage. But that’s OK, the concert was great and I’ll always be able to see it in my memory!

Also, there was also a rookie score keeper on the Archimedes field.

There was also a rookie score keeper on the Archimedes field. Morgan Freeman showed up during the finals matches. There was quite a stir with the entourage but we got through the matches. They invited him to sit in at the scorer’s table .
Morgan also took a spin on a Segway; I think his PR guy (or assistant) was a bit nervous that he may crash or fall off. However, Morgan did fine. While on the Segway, he just happen to run into Dean (not literally). So in the picture on the left, Dean isn’t really that much shorter than Morgan, Morgan’s just taller due to the Segway. Also, I apologize to Dean, for the “deer in the headlights” picture, it was just the best one I took of them together.

This was the first time I’ve volunteered at the FIRST World Championships and it was a great experience! Most of the volunteers knew each other and have been doing the Championships for years. I was welcomed and there was the typical FIRST friendliness. It was a great experience to work as an official scorer on the Archimedes field. I got to see the action up close. The reality was, it was about the same as a regional, but the atmosphere was certainly world championship and the level of robot play was well above the regional play. It was also good to see all the event people that I know from around Texas.

Well, I’m tired and I think I need to get caught up on rest. More later.

19
Apr
11

FIRST Book, Championship, Mentor’s and Sustainment

I’m hoping all went well during FIRST Robot Season. This was a great season, I think a lot of kids learned a lot things. I know I learned a lot from the kids.

I want to make sure everyone know about the book “The New Cool” by Neal Bascomb. This is a cool book about FIRST, I just got it and has just started reading it. However, I’ve talked with others who’ve read it and they all love it.

Also, the FIRST Robotics Championships are almost here, April 28 through April 30. Anyone who wants to see the best in FIRST robotics and what can be done in 6 weeks should see this. Or at least watch it on the web on the NASA website or TV on the NASA channel.

At least here in Texas I’m concerned about 2 things. In Texas, the state gave a lot of money to start new teams. However, I’m not sure how much thought they gave to finding technical mentors and to team sustainment. A lot of the teams are coached by science teachers that have no idea of the technical aspects of robots or the engineering behind them. Don’t get me wrong the teachers are great, dedicated teachers, but without the knowledge to build a good robot. Typically there are no plans after the initial frame build, no guide to help them show the kids how to move forward. There are 4 Engineering disciplines needed for a good robot. Some Engineers are knowledgeable in some of these but not all of these. I know a lot of the teams with Electrical or Mechanical Engineers don’t have the programming knowledge needed to make a good robot. The 4 areas are:

  1. Programming
  2. Electrical
  3. Mechanical
  4. Project Management

Project management isn’t really an Engineering discipline, but engineers, as well as robotics coaches, need to know about project management.

The other concern with the Texas FIRST money is team sustainment. There is a lot of money out there for rookie team startup but after a couple of years, the team has to find sponsors and do fund raisers for the team money. In this day and age, education funds are drying up and corporate funds for projects like FIRST are drying up. Teams need to be creative to do this.

Over the next months, I’m going to see what I can do to find resources for Engineering mentors or at least some way to learn what’s needed to build a good robot, as well as, what to do about team sustainment.