, ,

This morning US FIRST announced the design of the competition during the 2011 season. FIRST is an organization that encourages students (K-12 & Highschool) to engage in engineering challenges, such as building robots to develop their analytical / engineering skills. A FIRST team is required to provide all their own support to launch a successful entry. This implies that they need to organize a team, do fundraising to sustain their effort, develop a team website, design a robot, deploy it for the competition, do public relations work to promote their project and preferably do community outreach.

The competitions are designed to have groups of 3 teams compete another group of 3 teams. As part of a game the robot is required to initially do autonomous operation and subsequently it can be tele-operated. The design of the game is each year announced by early January. The teams then have 6 (six!) weeks to design their robot, built it, program it and test it. They are then shipped off the regional competitions. It is a major challenge to design these robots in minimum time and make them robust enough for participation in a significant number of matches. The teams are judged on aspects such as team spirit, sustainability, web design, outreach, … and the bots are judged on engineering inspiration, design, quality, … so there are many aspects to consider in the operations of a team and in the design of a new robot.

This years competition is termed – LOGOmotion – The robots are required to collect “rings” in different colors and mount them on a wall – preferably in the shape of the FIRST logo. At the end of a match they teams are encouraged to launch a mini-robot that can climb a pole to light up a marker. The mini-robots are to be built from parts from the FIRST FTC game. Teams that mentor an FTC teams thus have a serious advantage, and as such there is a promotion of broader engagement in the community. It is going to be very interesting to see how the teams approach this years challenge.

As usual the Georgia FIRST launch was hosted at Georgia Tech and had massive participation with more than 500 people in participation and more than 30 new rookie teams. The Peachtree Regional will take place 17-19 March 2011 at the Gwinett Center. More details at the Georgia FIRST web site