Wisconsin Robotics teams are steamrolling their way through regional competitions in For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) events — with their sights set on national competition in Atlanta this April.
FIRST Robotics is the world’s largest high school robotics competition with more than 800 teams in the U.S., Canada and South America. There are 26 regional competitions that determine which teams compete in the championship event.
Wisconsin teams that have participated in regional competitions are Appleton, Hamilton (Sussex), Hartford Union, Hartland, Madison Memorial, Manitowoc, Marinette, Mukwonago, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Platteville, South Milwaukee and Washington (Milwaukee) high schools. Delavan-Darien High School will compete in the West Michigan Regional April 1-3.
Teams that have earned top awards in regional competitions in St. Louis and Evanston, Ill., include:
- Appleton – St. Louis Regional – Woodie Flowers Award and Xerox Creativity Award, Midwest Regionals – Xerox Creativity Award;
- Hamilton (Sussex) High School – St. Louis regional winners and Auto Desk Award for Visualization, Midwest Regional – Woodie Flowers Award and Judges Award;
- Madison Memorial High School – Midwest Regional – Rookie All-Star Award;
- Marinette – St. Louis Regional – Leadership in Control Award;
- Mukwonago High School – Midwest Regional winner;
- Oconomowoc High School – Midwest Regional winner; and
- Pewaukee High School – Midwest Regional – Rookie Inspiration Award, Highest Rookie Seed Award, Team Spirit Award and fourth overall qualifier.
FIRST Robotics partners professionals and young people to solve an engineering design problem through intense competition. The program was established by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen to encourage students to explore careers in science and technology. Each year teams of high school students work closely with engineers, programmers, machinists and professionals in many other disciplines to meet the challenge of a new game put out by FIRST.
The robots, weighing in at more than 100 pounds, are built from a specific “Kit of Parts” and a detailed set of suppliers. Imagination and creativity are requisites to build a machine that is both robust and highly functional. No two robots are alike in the high-spirited FIRST competition.
Behind the guise of building a robot, organizers hope the real influence of FIRST can be seen and felt as each team member grows within an environment of leadership, professionalism and integrity. Team members learn the power of diversity, strength of a coordinated team effort and ability to gain from adversity.