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Three score and ten or more

Friday, March 05, 2010

New Experience

This afternoon I had an experience that was, for  me, unique.  I went to the Regional Competition for Robotics sponsored by Autodesk and other engineering firms.  The competition consisted of High school Robotic teams from Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, and Idaho. (These are the teams that I saw compete.  I was told that there were also teams from Utah and Nevada as well).  The contestants were required to build a wheeled robot that played soccer, that is that could dribble (that was what my high school PE teacher called it in 1949) pass the ball to another player and kick goals.  The course was sectioned into three parts, a home goal zone for each team and a center zone.  The zones were separated by barriers that looked like enormous “speed bumps” eighteen to twenty inches in height over which the robots had to climb in order to change zones.   I know thise is less that and ideal picture and I left my cameral behind, but I will post a better picture tomorrow.

The competition was held in the Portland Memorial Colosseum and was very well attended.  Different teams had uniforms ranging from matching T shirts to Viking Style Helmets with horns (cow type) on each side.  Teams also had a wide variety of Mascots in many different costumes.  (I helped with the design and construction of one of these---Hey, nobody is going to build a Mascot costume alone when one has a puppeteer in the house.)

You can hardly imagine the crowd, costumed in various ways to reflect their team names.  They made the front row of a college football game look pallid by comparison.  I have never seen more foot long Mohawk hair cuts , more hair held in place with heaven knows what kinds of hair sets, grease, varnish (I suspect)  and other stuff.

The noise, cheering and other wise backed up with constant music was exciting and intense.   The man next to me described it as Rock Concert for Nerds.  

By the way, no one should imagine that these teams are given designs to follow.  There are some size and format restrictions but they have to build things that will do tasks, and they were all very different, designed by the students and their “mentors” who are recruited from various local industries (in this area, mostly from electronic firms etc.)

It continues a second day tomorrow, and I will be there with bells on.

I understand that there will be another regional competition in Seattle later on in the year, which I will miss, and there will be Nationals sometime as well.  Admission was free, and I had a ball.

As a side note, among other things kids learn, my grandson (on the local team) wrote a grant proposal which raised almost two thousand dollars for his team.  Others did the same.  this team  raised over five thousand dollars to finance their own activity.  


At 12:21 PM, Blogger Ed said...

I use computer software from Autodesk on a daily basis.


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