Atlanta FVC 2005

 

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Sharon Eagle Robotics teams at Atlanta competition

Sharon Advocate - Friday, May 27th, 2005

Two teams from the Sharon Youth Robotics Association (SYRA) were invited to compete at the first FIRST Vex Challenge held in Atlanta April 21st-22nd.  Held in conjunction with the FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC) and the FIRST Lego League (FLL) International Festival, the new FIRST Vex Challenge spans the two and should allow the SYRA to extend participation from ages 9-14 (current) to ages 9-18.

The two teams were the Sharon Eagle Robotics AngelBots & Unlimited teams.  Prior to the FIRST championship they combined their efforts this spring to compete in an after-season FLL competition at Quinsigamond Community College, finishing in the final four and receiving the top Technical award for an innovative drive design.  Invited to participate in a new FIRST competition, they continued their alliance, studying C programming & designing new robots from Vex robotics kits generously supplied by Radio Shack.  Creating robots larger than the LEGO bots in FLL, but smaller than 130lb FRC bots, the resulting designs resemble models from a modern motorized Erector set.

After participating in a scrimmage held at WPI in Worcester, they refined their designs for the Atlanta competition.  The Atlanta trip became the highlight of their season, with visits to local landmarks as well as two days of intense competition.  The teams acquitted themselves well, seeding 19th & 29th in a field of 52.  The Unlimited team was chosen as part of the top-seeded alliance (teams 1, 2 and 19).

The celebration on the final evening included food, festivities and a VIP robotic competition.  Grant Imahara (Industrial Light and Magic, R2D2 & Energizer bunny operator, Discovery Channel’s MythBusters) had met the Sharon teams that afternoon.  He called up a Sharon team member to compete on-stage teamed with him, and the alliance was victorious through the Finals!  The teams felt that it was a fantastic cap to an awesome experience.

The FIRST (“For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”) program aspires “to create a world where science and technology are celebrated . . . where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes”, according to founder Dean Kamen, a prominent inventor and technologist.

The FIRST Robotics Competition began in 1992 in a high school gym.  This past season the “Triple Play” challenge included almost 1000 teams, at 30 regional competitions and the Championship.  

The FIRST LEGO League was created in partnership between FIRST and the LEGO Company in 1998 (the pilot season) with 200 teams participating, and Sharon has been represented since 1999.  This past fall, 6,000 FLL teams all over the world accepted the "No Limits" challenge (themed to address issues of disabilities), engaging them in robotics design, as well as technological and social research.  This coming fall, it is expected that close to 7000 teams will focus on one of the world’s most precious resources, in the Ocean Odyssey challenge.

The FIRST Vex Robotics Challenge was started in 2005, with the successful demonstration tournament in which Sharon participated.  Fall 2005 will see the pilot season, with around 450 teams competing and nine regional competitions.

Continuing activities can be followed at the Sharon Youth Robotics Association website at http://www.syraweb.org .  From there, links to all FIRST robotics content as well as information on Sharon and regional robotics activities and competitions can be found, with lots of photos.  The new season will be underway in the fall, with an organizational meeting in late August, and all Sharon students are welcome to participate!

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