Technology and Our Future

If you look back at our daily lives in 1989 when the FIRST Robotics Competition was first conceptualized by inventor Dean Kamen and MIT mechanical engineering professor Woodie C. Flowers it’s hard to imagine. Kamen, while most known for the invention of the Segway, made most of his impact with inventing the Auto syringe, a mobile dialysis system, an insulin pump, as well as an all terrain electric wheel chair. In 1989 Kamen and Flowers, realizing that the future laid in the hands of the youth, set out to find a way to engage and inspire students to explore engineering. Since then The FIRST Robotics Competition has expanded in to a worldwide event with 48,000 students coming from every state as well as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Israel, The Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The FIRST Robotics World Championships has 4 leagues. The main event is the FIRST Robotics Competition. This year’s challenge is to make a robot that can shoot balls into a goal. The teams will compete in tournament form and the highest scoring robot moves forward. Each match is 2 and ¼ minutes long. In case we forgot these robots are designed and produced start to finish by 14-18 year old high school students. If this weren’t impressive enough the first half of the match the robots perform on a preset automatic mode and the second half they are to be controlled by remote! Each team starts with a $6000 starter pack and can only spend an additional $3500 on their robots. The terms are released the first Saturday of January and the teams have 6 weeks to collaborate and innovate and produce.

Produce they do. So much so that the competition has expanded to include 3 other leagues. FIRST Lego League in which kids between the ages of 9-16 build hand held robots to compete in the same form as the FRC. Junior FIRST Lego League also follows the same theme for kids ages 6-9 building robots with at least one movable part. Lastly the FIRST Tech Challenge was added as a more affordable option for schools to build robots at an intermediate level. Last year these robots used Bluetooth technology to power the driver.

In 2008 former President George H.W. Bush came to Atlanta and spoke at the competition. That year $9.8 million in scholarships were handed out to participants. This year we are excited to see who will come and experience the friendly competition and meet the future trailblazers, and pioneers of our world. Inn at the Peachtrees looks forward to accommodating these brilliant little minds. Be on the look out for pictures next week of the kids and robots we have staying with us on our facebook page!

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