Dozens of industrial-sized robots designed by high school students and programmed to scale walls, carry cubes and compete in other events will be showcased at the Wright State University Nutter Center.
The FIRST POWER UP Robotics Competition regional tournament on March 2–3 is expected to draw 60 teams from around the Midwest. The competition, which will have a video games theme, is free and open to the public.
“This is a win for the whole of Dayton because of the centralized location for the participating states,” said Joy Haviland, a marketing mentor with the robotics team from Beavercreek. “The benefit for our 6- to 18-year-old students who want to get involved in STEM is that they can come and witness the contagious excitement that is generated at the robotics competition.”
The FIRST Robotics Competition is billed as the ultimate sport for the mind. By combining the excitement of sport and beauty of art with the rigors of science and technology, teams of high school students build and program robots to perform tasks against a field of competitors.
One of the tasks for this year is the ability to pick up, or receive a cube, then move it across the field to score on a scale or switch.
“The students are exposed to real-life, problem-solving roles,” said Haviland. “They learn how to work together as a team, sometimes under incredible pressure.”
Under strict rules, limited resources and a six-week time limit, teams of students must raise funds, design a team “brand,” sharpen teamwork skills and then build the robots under the guidance of adult mentors in what is designed to emulate real-world engineering.
“The students love for STEM is put to the test before they enter college,” said Haviland. “Unlike most sports, FIRST Robotics encourages competition and cooperation and thus the term ‘coopertition.’”
The teams compete at regional tournaments in hopes of advancing to the national championship. This year, there are more than 3,600 robotics teams comprised of 90,000 students and their adult mentors from around the world.
Haviland said she loves being involved in the robotics culture.
“We are all in it for the future generation, whether our kids are involved or just answering the call to volunteer and make a difference,” she said. “Where else can you find graduates of Yale, Air Force Academy, Purdue, University of Kentucky, Ohio State, Wright State and many other educational institutions all under one roof with a bunch of techie kids?”