Approximately 800 high school students from Brazil, Great Britain, Hawaii, New York, and New England will descend upon Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) this week as the university hosts the 2nd annual WPI FIRST Regional robotics competition. The event, which takes place in Harrington Auditorium, is open to the public March 11-12.
More than 1,000 spectators are expected to attend, especially during the intense elimination rounds after lunch on Saturday. New matches start every six minutes. Among the 36 competing teams will be the two WPI-sponsored teams from Worcester's Mass. Academy of Math and Science (team 190) and Burncoat High School (team 1735).
Students will compete with the 145-pound robots they created for this high-action, two-day competition, whose theme this year is "LOGO MOTION." Working with mentors, students had six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season's engineering challenge. To build their robots, student teams received a Kit of Parts at the FIRST competition season's Jan. 8 kickoff. The kit included motors, batteries, a control system, a PC, and a mix of automation components—but no instructions.
The young inventors then participate in the FIRST competitions, which measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the students' determination. The FIRST regional will lead up to the FIRST World Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri, April 27-30.
The WPI FIRST Regional is sponsored by Motorola and MathWorks, with long-term support from SolidWorks and Polar Beverages.
Recognizing that robotics engineering is one of the fastest-growing industries in today’s economy, WPI launched in 2007 the nation's first bachelor's degree program in robotics engineering, and is currently the only university in the United States to offer bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees in robotics engineering. Through academic offerings, K-12 outreach programs, and the WPI FIRST Robotics Resource Center, and by hosting many other annual robotics-related events, WPI has become the proving ground for hundreds of would-be robotics champions in New England.
FIRST (For Inspiration of Science and Technology) was founded by inventor and WPI alumnus Dean Kamen. The FIRST Robotics Competition helps high school students discover the excitement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; and the rewards that a STEM-focused career can bring.