A Sneak Peek at the High School World Robotics Competition

Dennis Faas's picture

Wonder what it takes to win a high school world robotics competition? A St. Catherine's, Ontario, Canada team recently found out, awarded first prize for the construction of a robot capable of moving while aiming oversized balls at a target.

The competition was held last weekend in Atlanta, Georgia and featured representation from an astounding eight countries totalling 344 teams (including a number of prominent U.S. high schools). However, it was the 25-member Canadian team from Governor Simcoe Secondary School in St. Catherines that captured the judges and the crowd with its 'Simbotics' project.

The goal of Simbotics was to build a robot capable of moving around a track while aiming inflated balls one meter in diameter at a two-meter high overpass. The balls could pass over or under that target. (Source: stcatharinesstandard.ca)

What's the point?

The competition itself has been dubbed the FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology competition. It's the work of Dean Kamen, the man behind the semi-useful Segway one-man transporter. Critics might blast the competition for being about as worthwhile as Kamen's invention; however, he believes FIRST is "inspiring the next generation of innovators and engineers," and "some of the students who competed in the Georgia Dome will be inventing solutions to society's most challenging problems." (Source: cbc.ca)

Certainly, there could be a usage for robots that can move and target at the same time. There should also be a demand for those young people -- Canadian, American, Belgian, or whatever -- capable of their construction and programming.

Simbotics was sponsored by General Motors.

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