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HS Students Compete In FIRST Robotics Competition

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the robots-and-high-school-can-only-lead-to-hilarity dept.


A trio of teams have banded together to succeed in the 'FIRST Robotics Competition'. The teams Bobcat Robotics from South Windsor, Connecticut, Highrollers from Las Vegas, Nevada, and Gompei and the HERD from Worcester, Massachusetts combined to create a versatile robot geared to succeeding at a number of odd tasks. "These young people had six weeks to perfect their machines. And they had the enthusiasm of any athletic competition. From tie-dyed shirts to human hair dyed in school colors, competitors from 23 countries showed that math, science and brains can provide a lot of excitement ... Whether it is computer programming, wiring a motor or scouting rivals to develop strategy, students said the skills they develop often go beyond the contest. Clearly, the event has piqued the interest of major sponsors such as NASA, which will broadcast webcasts of the competitions."

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lol nerds (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18739781)

I'm an Alpha male /b/.

And girls want to fuck alpha males. Let it piss you off as much as you want, but you know it's completely true. That girl you like who is kinda cute in a weird way, but is totally sweet and you have the biggest crush on? The one who keeps going back to guys who treat her wrong for reasons you don't understand? The one who calls you up at 1 am to cry about how her boyfriend hasn't called her in 3 days, and no matter how long you listen to her, she'll never think of you as anything other than asexual? The one who will curl up next to you on the couch, hug you close, kiss you on the cheek, and never let you fucking touch her beyond that?

Yeah, I'm fucking her.

The hot girl who won't even look at you when you nod at them and smile? The one who laughs when you trip in the hallway and drop your stuff? The one who comes up and coyly asks for your help with her homework, and then pretends you don't exist once you finish?

Yeah, I'm fucking her too, even harder.

The geeky girl you think might be enough like you that you have a chance with her? She plays Warcraft on your server, and watches anime, and reads comics? She's so incredible and you just love her so much but you still haven't worked up the courage to tell her how you feel about her?

Guess who just sucked me off and told me they'll always love me?

And what's more? I laugh at guys like you. When you cry about how much girls treat you bad, and wonder why they can't just see that you're a nice guy who would always treat them right? I nod and tell you to hang in there, you'll find someone right for you someday, don't give up hope man. But inside? I'm laughing my ass off at you you pathetic fuck. Every girl you set your sights on, who isn't a disgusting pig-monster, I'm going to fuck 6 ways from Sunday before you even tell her you think she's cute. I won't bother trying when you finally settle for that 350 pound girl who works at Hardees, you can have that. Anything else I'm going to cum on her face before you get those lips near it.

And the biggest reason I laugh? It's not me doing all this. It's the girls. When you cry about how lonely you are? Or talk about how you just want to curl up and disappear, and all that emo bullshit? You're triggering her "Don't Fuck" instinct something fierce. You're a miserable weak coward, why would she want your genes? Feel free to buy her a new computer and help her decorate her apartment, you're great for that. But her baby-maker is barking orders at her, telling her to wrap her legs around me and hold on for as long as she can. She needs it, on a primal level you'll never get to see first hand, even if you do get a chance to fuck her. Sooner or later one of them will lay back and spread their legs, but you won't see any hunger in their eyes. They won't beg you to love them forever and make them yours. You won't know what it's like to see her animal side needing you as much as she needs to eat and breath.

And she's cheating on you, I promise that. When she sits around quiet and uncomfortable, acting irritable and irrational towards you, wanting you to just back away and leave her alone, it's not her period. It's because I haven't called her for a day or two and her instincts are telling her to go find me. The primitive section of her brain doesn't want to risk smelling like another man when she gives herself to me, she wants me to know she's completely mine. We do things together she tells you she never would. Her pooper? Mine. I want to give her a facial? of course. I want her to suck the cum out of my dick, even though I just finished pumping away at her ass? she's never going to tell me no. She doesn't WANT to tell me no. She wants me to know she'll do anything it takes to keep me. She'll rim my ass while she's down there sucking me off if it means pleasing me. She'll drink my cum from a shot glass. She'll wear a buttplug when we go out to dinner. She'll sleep handcuffed to my headboard. Anything.

And then she'll go home to you and tell you she's not in the mood today.

I'd say you should become an hero, but you being around makes her want a real man all the more, so keep fagging it up emo bitches, I'll keep that pussy warm while you're crying in the corner.

Re:lol nerds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18739895)

This must have been hard to type, because I can guarantee you've got two fingers in your asshole, while you watch yourself jerk off in the mirror. Time to come out of the closet bud, you're a full blown homosexual who is clearly having problems getting it up. Perhaps your mother abusing you as a child created these issues, or maybe you just have problems coping with the fact that you have a small dick. Either way, good on ya for wasting 3 hours of your life writing that. Hope it helped.

Re:lol nerds (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18739933)

I'm an Alpha male /b/.

Sorry buddy, if you have to say it, you ain't it.

Re:lol nerds (-1, Offtopic)

Heembo (916647) | more than 7 years ago | (#18740027)

Sure fuck my girlfriend, who cares. I'm still your boss, I still make more money than you, I still actually have career options, the possibility to buy a home and have a real adult life. Sure, fuck my 2 timing girlfriend, thanks for taking the ho' off my hands. While I go and develop a real life and continue dating real women who fuck me just fine and have more class on their little finger than you will ever have. And yes, I'll be sure to tip you well when you dry the windows of my jag at the car wash.

Re:lol nerds (1)

cheese-cube (910830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18740405)

ROFL at /b/tard troll.

Re:lol nerds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18740609)

Let it piss you off as much as you want, but you know it's completely true.

Actually no... (Not to feed the troll) As someone who as been with 20+ people in past decade, I can verify it has nothing to do with people an asshole other that when it comes to the dumping part. You can be sweet up to the point on where you leave. Of course you can still be a nerd and good looking *coughs* It helps.

I can also verify that you have no idea about the downsides of such behavior so apparently if you are encouraging cheating with on only one person basis. Ahhh... The wonders of anti-biotics. Errr... Anyways...

But more on topic, I envy these kids. In 20 years, sex will real women will mean nothing because you can build a better looking female robot companion that has a better personality. Not to mention robots will be replacing us at every moment. You and I will be old and gray... Hopefully I will know one of these kids (hopefully not my own from my past exploits) and they can build me a nice companion to take care of me in the retirement home. See... Now that is thinking.

Re:lol nerds (0, Offtopic)

Donut Zeke (1085279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18741285)

Oh, how very big of you. You're an alpha male, are you? Well, let me clue you in on something: Alpha Males haven't been in charge for a good couple of decades. Obviously, this tirade is directed on a High School level. Once you get out of high school, and begin working at your dead-end office job, you know who your boss is going to be? That's right, that pasty nerd you made fun of. It's funny, you see. The majority of the women you are talking about, despite the blatant lies you've slipped in, and the generalizations which remain moderately untrue, are frankly, idiotic sluts. The fact that you're trying to taunt us with them is inane, because while they sound appealing in text, in reality, we wouldn't want anything to do with the fucking skanks. And furthermore, thank you for "fucking every girl in the school (I bet you can bench 2000 pounds too, amirite?)." Honestly, thank you. Why, you may ask? Because, by taking away the easy route, you have brought pain upon us. You have brought us misery, you have forced us to adapt to that misery, and to grow as people. Luxury doesn't incite growth, pain does. So while you're busy sticking it in your AIDS-ridden skanks, we're studying, learning, gaining skills that are necessary for life. You may scoff at this, call us stupid nerds for not getting the pussy while it's hot, but guess what? We're going to get it eventually. You said so yourself, women love power. So, eventually, you're going to find a women you love as much as she primally needs you. You're going to get married, maybe settle down a bit. Wild sex for the first two years, but after a while, she'll get antsy. She'll grow tired of the novelty of the Alpha Male. Your relationship will become the dull forced marriage that is seen constantly in America. You'll likely divorce her and move on, getting a younger wife that'll need you as much as your old wife did when you first married. Seems swell, doesn't it? I can assure you, it isn't. By now, we have risen to power. While you live the life of the swingers, we are the Senators, the Chairmen, we are the rulers of life as you know it. We have transcended your pitiful existence, and control every aspect of your very fate, without you even so much as noticing. By now, we have the money and the power, and as Scarface once said (We know you love him, and have his poster on your bedroom wall,'cause you're cool like that) next we get the women. And guess who it is that loves power, as you said women do? That's right, it's your little skank of a wife! Now, most of us will likely have settled down with a wife, but I'm sure there are plenty that would be glad to take your wife when she dumps your sorry ass to go to the people she knows have the real power. And, as we get older, our fortunes and power will grow. We'll eventually get a few trophy wives, settle down a bit, and live in the lap of luxury. Meanwhile, you, the "Alpha Male" will be left alone. By the time you hit thirty, your primal attraction, your ONLY asset, will begin to fade. Your third wife in ten years will grow tired of your old, pitiful body, and will leave you. Stuck in a dead-end job as one of our pawns, you will grow old and even less appealing. Eventually you will die an old and unloved man, either by taking your own life, drowning yourself in booze, or perhaps merely out of your own misery. So go ahead. Brag about how many women you are fucking. Call us losers. We may seem to be upset, and you may mock our pain, but I assure you, we know your fate. And we are smiling inside. Also, lulz at copypasta. It is quite delicious. /.ers don't know that you must eat this delicious copypasta.

Re:lol nerds (1)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18741569)

wait... what? I read the first part and almost shrugged this off, and then I read the last part. Apparently you're acknowledging that this is a troll (and for some reason an astonishingly EPIC troll for being so goddamned obvious), and yet you're serving as his chef...

slashdotters really ARE that dumb...
Seriously people, let's be introspective for a bit and perhaps realize that slashdot really HAS been reduced to an exercise in pseudointellectual elaboration rather than serious discussion on current events. Seriously, when trolls from 4chan can bring this shit out of you, perhaps you should consider reevaluating the way you conduct yourself on this forum.
That having been said, "!!3YJU/k9Wuhz" is my tripcode on /b/.

Re:lol nerds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18742949)

He is replying to copypasta with the appropriate copypasta response. Or, in case you're that thick, lurk moar.

Re:lol nerds (1)

Donut Zeke (1085279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747193)

Thank you for explaining to him. Everyone needs to lurk moar, besides you and a few others who got it. To the one you replied to, go look at's copypasta archive for moar knowledge.

Re:lol nerds THANKS! (0, Offtopic)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 7 years ago | (#18742091)

If you're fucking my girlfriend, that gives me more time to code and play DnD! I already have had a vascectomy, so if there's a bun in oven, you can take care of that chore, too! I'll be sure to add a little to your tip next time I order a pizza and we'll call it even, okay? BTW my girlfriend is really, really fat so your efforts are truly heroic.

Re:lol nerds (1)

djrok212 (801670) | more than 7 years ago | (#18744563)

And now to bring this entire chain of posts to the ultimate low! Mr. Anonymous Coward if women like "Alpha Men" like yourself, how come this geek was about to fuck your Mom? Over and over and over...

Awesome (1)

Sinryc (834433) | more than 7 years ago | (#18739783)

FIRST is great. I was involved when I was in high school. We need to get the word out even more so that people will know more about it and will support it more!

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18739881)

First FIRST post! And it didn't get modded down!

Re:Awesome (1)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18741489)

I hate to bite, but I was in a similar competition in middle school, so my first response to FIRST is "so what?"
Robotics competitions in all ages aren't all that uncommon, so is this a slow news day? I mean, what would make this important would be if it was something more than a glorified exercise in Lego Mindstorms.

Re:Awesome (1)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18741941)

You, sir, are completely incorrect regarding what first is.

Lego Mindstorms? Really?

Do they use CNC machines, Lathes, Mills, and turn out a robot that weighs over 150 pounds, puts out more torque than many small automobiles, and costs well over $20k after all is said and done?

Corporate sponsership? 8 million dollars in college scholarships? Summer internship ships at intel, motorola, nasa, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Texas Instruments?

No. Sorry. Lego Mindstorms is nice, but it's not even close in scope. You should troll elsewhere.

Re:Awesome (1)

Cardcaptor_RLH85 (891550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18761575)

To back up the troll a bit, maybe he went to the FIRST website [] and just looked at the FIRST Lego League (FLL)information. The FLL group is for 9-14 year olds and actually does use the Lego Mindstorms system. However, the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is much more involved as the parent notes.

Re:Awesome (3, Insightful)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18742727)

FIRST is ok, I did it for two years, but it isn't something that most /. readers would find terribly interesting to participate in.

Really, the name says it all. "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology". The program does all of that, and it is great for getting kids who would otherwise never have such opportunities involved in some fun stuff.

What FIRST is NOT however, is a robotics competition. The years I participated the rounds were 2-3 minutes long, and 20 to 30 seconds of that time were dedicated to autonomous operation. Most teams didn't even try to do anything during the "autonomous period", or they simply had their robot drive forward for 5 seconds then spin circles, or something similarly uninteresting. The "programming" was all done inside of a function that was provided, manipulating variables that were provided. No direct access to either input, or most particularly to output. Where the wiring was concerned the prescribed method was to plug all of the provided parts together in accordance with the manual. "Custom circuits" were sort of allowed, although they had to undergo a complicated inspection process, and were under no conditions whatsoever allowed to interface directly with any motors/actuators/etc. Basically no one used "custom circuits", except a few of the teams that had professional engineers building their "robots" for them while they stood on the sidelines.

One particular incident stands out in my memory: During a practice round just before the finals one of the teams we were teamed up with broke a mechanism on their robot's arm. But their "mentor" who had designed and built the robot was out to lunch. One of the kids was crying, while the rest of them just stood around with no idea what to do. We had to fix their robot for them.

Anyway, don't get me wrong, FIRST is a great way to inspire kids, one of our team members went from working at a fast food restaraunt to going off to some game design school (which I was skeptical of, but I talked to him the other day and it seems to be working out ok). But as a "robotics competition" FIRST is way overrated.

Non-student competition (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 7 years ago | (#18744757)

There are lots of robot competitions for students, but I'm not a student anymore. Does anyone know of non-student competitions (preferably in Europe, but for other readers, post freely)? I would really like to participate in one, but don't know where to look.

Re:Non-student competition (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746563)

Start one? :-)

In the software realm, you can use games like RealTimeBattle and CoreWars. I always wanted to build a table for a physical manifestation of RTB. :-)

Re:Non-student competition (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 7 years ago | (#18754059)

RTB seems pretty cool! Thanks for the tip.

Re:Non-student competition (1)

mikael (484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18749773)

Many of the robot kit manufacturers organise competitions based around their kits.

Vex Labs [] is one such company.

Maybe you could attend a robotics tradeshow [] in Europe?

Re:Awesome (1)

Cardcaptor_RLH85 (891550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18761751)

When were you involved in FIRST? With the exception of this years competition (autonomous mode wasn't really strategically necessary this year) the autonomous modes for 2005 and 2006 seemed to be quite interesting really. Also, while custom circuits cannot directly communicate with the mechanical parts, if a team has a good programmer (I've seen some teams do this) you can make the motors act as though they are directly connected to the custom devices. In addition, the provided function is just so that teams who don't have the experience to fully program the robot can compete too. I've even seen people rewrite the entire code. Lastly, while there are teams that have their robots designed and built completely by their engineers, this in NOT what FIRST recommends. FIRST recommends that the engineers and mentors allow the students to design the robot and the mentors be more of a 'reality check' and to offer assistance when necessary (for example teaching/helping students to use dangerous machinery). Now I've gone and started to rant...sorry about that. I guess we can tell that I help out with a FIRST robotics team can't we ^_^

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18751803)

I did this in High School. I'm sure every school's experience is different, but my experience sucked.

There were a bunch of kids who wanted to do nothing except design the shirts and other dumb pr stuff.

There were a bunch of kids who wanted to be the driver and nothing else.

Then there were a few of us who were actually interested in doing some of the machining or programming only to find out that between every Thursday meeting, the engineers from our sponsoring company had done everything already and left us dumb stuff like shaving the leftover burrs off of metal pieces etc.

I got absolutely nothing out of FIRST.

But like I said, it didn't need to be that way and I'm sure other teams are different.

FIRST Robotics Competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18739815)

If they have another competition next year, will it still be called the FIRST? :)

Not sure that last sentence is entirely accurate (5, Informative)

mreynozo (994136) | more than 7 years ago | (#18739821)

As someone who was involved in FIRST for the last three years, I wouldn't say that the competition has just now piqued the interest of major sponsors such as NASA - I'd say that they were integral to the development of FIRST from the beginning, most especially NASA.

The summary also gave the impression that the three teams combined to create one robot - well no, each team has a seperate robot in FIRST, and this years' competition allowed three teams per side.

On a personal note, oh how I miss FIRST. Last year (my senior year) was when I had the greatest enthusiasm for the program, and I did indeed dye my hair blue and orange. It's a shame that was also my school's last year before the team disbanded. I would strongly encourage any slashdotter to volunteer for a local FIRST team - the whole robot-making experience leaves a lasting thirst for engineering that mentors can help shape into a high schooler's bright future.

Re:Not sure that last sentence is entirely accurat (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18741497)

As someone who was involved in FIRST for the last three years, I wouldn't say that the competition has just now piqued the interest of major sponsors such as NASA - I'd say that they were integral to the development of FIRST from the beginning, most especially NASA.

Indeed, I competed with my high school in the U.S. FIRST robotics competition in 1995, and there were serious contenders sponsored by major companies like Proctor and Gamble back then. Actually, I think they sponsored two teams - one that used Tide as its logo, and the other that used Sunny D...

Too bad our team had a relatively poor sponsor. Our robot's basic design worked, but a reload mechanism was designed too weak to operate, and the sponsor wouldn't/couldn't pay to rebuild the parts scaled up to handle the load. Still, I have some great memories of our matches. Ours was one of the few "shooting" robots that year, and our final match - with three shooters competing - was considered one of the most exciting of the competition.

not just engineering (1)

RighteousRaven (998592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18741559)

"the whole robot-making experience leaves a lasting thirst for engineering..."

Not just engineering, but also programming, game theory, management, and accounting. I personally cant imagine anyone having a thirst for accounting, but I've seen it happen.

Re:Not sure that last sentence is entirely accurat (2, Insightful)

gatzke (2977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18744093)

As a faculty member in engineering, I totally support FIRST robotics and FIRST lego league.

At the same time, it seems that the results skew toward pushing students into ME, not EE or CS (or my favorite, CHE).

Although the robotics could involve neat sensing and computing (EE) and algorithm development (CS) the students take home message is that all engineering is levers, gears, etc (ME). The high schoolers don't do much with the automation side of things (their adult mentors sort most of that out usually) and the middle school FIRST lego kids only do very simple programs (move forward 5 seconds, turn left, move forward again...).

At least it gives them some motivation to check out STEM careers.

Re:Not sure that last sentence is entirely accurat (1)

Version6 (44041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18744995)

The high schoolers don't do much with the automation side of things (their adult mentors sort most of that out usually)...

I would say that depends on the team. My son's team (which competed in the nationals--we've just been home an hour or so) did all the work--hardware, software, control systems. Their rule is "The coach doesn't touch the robot." They placed several rings in the autonomous period (at both regional and national competition) using only the camera (unlike teams whose adult advisors added ultrasonic sensors). They made it to nationals by winning the Chairman's Award at their regional.

I have heard that there are reasons why the rules allow adult "mentors" to essentially design and build the entire robot. As I understand it, actually driving the robot in competition is the only thing that adults can't do--they can even be the strategist on the field. I think they should get away from that. Kids that age really are young adults, and do have amazing capabilities if you give them some basic training and support. What's the best way to learn? Do it yourself!

Re:Not sure that last sentence is entirely accurat (1)

kevlarman (983297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18745237)

I have heard that there are reasons why the rules allow adult "mentors" to essentially design and build the entire robot. As I understand it, actually driving the robot in competition is the only thing that adults can't do--they can even be the strategist on the field. I think they should get away from that. Kids that age really are young adults, and do have amazing capabilities if you give them some basic training and support. What's the best way to learn? Do it yourself!
I think they allow mentors to do that much of the work on the robot to make things easier on rookie teams, since it's very rare for them to have enough skilled students before they get established. When i was on team 100, the adults would help the students when they needed help, but rarely actually do any work that a student couldn't have done in their absence (for the most part, the only work adults did on the robot was the same stuff students did (like if they needed to file a shaft so it fits in the wheel, it wouldn't be uncommon for an adult to grab one while a student grabbed another to speed things up), for an adult to just do something by themselves was almost unheard of).

Re:Not sure that last sentence is entirely accurat (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18745561)

Right, it depends on the team. But in my experience, it seems like the electronics side of things is MOSTLY done by adults and the kids are just there to build mechanical things and run the remote during competition. In regionals, a lot of robots don't attempt anything during the autonomous period (in my experience).

At the same time, HS kids should know something about mechanical things with some intuition as to how to put gears and levers together. They may not know a lot about programming and the probably know nothing about sensing and automation. So it makes sense that the mentors have to be a lot more involved in that side of things.

Re:Not sure that last sentence is entirely accurat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18746643)

Cameras (constant feed, doesn't take pictures), gyros, accelerometers, ultrasonics, encoders, potentiometers, and touch sensors were decently common at the world championships. I personally hooked up our team's gyro, encoders, potentiometers, and touch sensors, as well as tried out in prototyping accelerometers and ultrasonics. Another student handled the camera entirely. We wrote a PID controller into our robot, as well as had to code our drive train (meccanum omniwheels).

Autonomous is just hard to make longer without making the build season longer. 6 weeks was barely enough for some teams to get the mechanical parts of their robot working -- let along adding sensors and code for the robot to make decisions on its own.

FIRST? (2)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18739873)

I am pretty sure I have heard of previous robotics competitions... so FIRST much be an acronym and not capitalized for emphasis. Anyone know what it stands for?

Re:FIRST? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18739915)

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology

For Inspiration & Recognition in Sci and Tech (3, Insightful)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18739947)

But most people forget that, just like most teams forget what the actual prize is - by the time the finals roll around, the kids are so pumped to be doing this the actual prize is almost an afterthought.

Returning from our first FIRST regional in NH in 97, my boss asked me how it went. I told him I'd been teaching for 17 years, and this was the first time I had to sit down and put my head between my knees becasue I was about to pass out watching my students do something academic.

In retrospect, it is the single most effective thing I've seen in now 27 years of teaching to get kids to "do their darndest, no holds barred" like we always imagine kids should do in school.

Re:For Inspiration & Recognition in Sci and Te (1)

Hyperspite (980252) | more than 7 years ago | (#18744553)

As someone who did FIRST for three years, I gotta say, it beats the hell out of sitting in class. I love theoretical matters too, but damn, Sitting around doing similar activities all day every day for years and years on end? FIRST is insanely fun because it lets you do something different. Not only that, you learn so much about producing things, team dynamics, and tons of other highly relevant experiences.

Possibly one of the most interesting things that happened in team was that because we spent so much time with each other in and out of the lab, we became the closest friends ever, and a few years later, that's still true for some of us. Also, very interesting was that there were a lot of couples that came out of there ;-), so unlike what that troll was implying in a previous thread, the nerds got the girls too :D

In summary, FIRST - good stuff all around.

Re:FIRST? (1)

RelliK (4466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18742891)

The winners go on to compete in SECOND robotic competition.

I like to reminisce (4, Funny)

mqj (949877) | more than 7 years ago | (#18739919)

Ahh, so many wonderful memories of robot competition are summed up in this bash [] quote

<Patrician|Away> what does your robot do, sam
<bovril> it collects data about the surrounding environment, then discards it and drives into walls

FIRST outside North America (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18739931)

FIRST is quite good - I was in a team competing from the UK, unfortunately, for teams outside the US/Canada it's fairly hard to raise the money to build the robot and get the team to the event!

Some sort of initiative to help teams outside of North America would be good I think - there is a fair bit of interest over here in the UK.

fail2orS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18740009)

Maybe I'm missing something (2, Funny)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18740095)

Shouldn't "Robotics Competition" be limited to Robots?

Every Little Bit Helps (3, Interesting)

realthing02 (1084767) | more than 7 years ago | (#18740207)

While this probably won't get too much play outside of the tech community, it's good to see there is at least an interest in computer science/robotics in the high school level. It wasn't until college that i had the ability to tinker with some robots, and it was a great experience and definitely taught me a lot about the field, not just theory.

Now i just can't wait for robotics teams to get a slice of that high school football budget.

Re:Every Little Bit Helps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18740537)

I was also on a team back in High School. I was on Wildstang, from Rolling Meadows/Wheeling High School, just outside of Chicago. We had many regional victories, and alot of 2nd and 3rd place victories while I was on the team, but it wasnt until my sophomore year in college that we won the competition. Great memories.

Re:Every Little Bit Helps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18742237)

Our school's football team won four games in the last two years, yet they still get ridiculously high funding compared to anything else in the school. The district flaunts the robotics team as a high point since we've done fairly well, yet refuses gives us barely adequate funding. We do get corporate sponsors, too, but the school just continues to throw money away with the football team.

This year I was a driver for my team in PA; our alliance of three teams finished second in the Drexel regional.

Really robots? (2, Interesting)

Porchroof (726270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18740327)

Were these really robots or were they simply radio-controlled devices...with a human in control?

Anybody there ever read "I, Robot" by Isaac Asimov? That series of short stories will enlighten you to what robots are/will be.

Re:Really robots? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18740535)

there is a 15 second autonomous mode, and there is a CMU camera available to the competitors.... they are robots.
(there is a 2 minute RC mode)

Re:Really robots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18740897)

>Anybody there ever read "I, Robot" by Isaac Asimov?

Nope, never heard of it. Who is this Asimov guy again?

On behalf of all FIRSTers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18742615)

ok, YOU design and build and test a fully autonomous robot in 6 weeks. remember, you only have $3000, limited sensor/motor/etc capabilities, and only one 12v, 1800mAH battery that must run the entire robot for at least 3 minutes.

Now, what about the capabilities of this robot? well, it must avoid 5 other robots and locate, manipulate and score with game pieces. unfortunately the pieces are nonmetallic and not specially marked by anything like an IR beacon, so you must use optics to locate them. Oh wait, this year they're translucent, and lighting conditions are as unpredicatble as ever.

Finally, to give yourself the fully authentic feel for this: don't use a machine shop for anything, work on the robot for less than 4 hours a day (you have classes to attend), and attempt to give yourself amnesia any way possible, so that any pesky things like prior experience, in industry or elsewhere, won't get in the way.

but I'm sure that all of this will be no problem and YOUR robot will be absolute perfection, able to score every ringer AND pick up both your alliance members 12" off the floor.

Re:On behalf of all FIRSTers... (1)

kevlarman (983297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18742993)

couple corrections: it's 4 weeks, you spend the first 2 arguing with teammates about what you should build, and any real programming work starts at your first regional, because the robot was only "finished" on midnight before ship day, and broke down in every one of the practice rounds. --team 100's former programmer

Re:On behalf of all FIRSTers... (1)

Tyrdium (670229) | more than 7 years ago | (#18743381)

Or finding out - at regionals - that you need to drop 30 pounds off your robot within a few hours. Fortunately, my old team invested in a scale for this year.
-Team 246 alum

Re:On behalf of all FIRSTers... (1)

kevlarman (983297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18743961)

yup, been there.

Re:Really robots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18779253)

robot [roh-buht, -bot]
1. a machine that resembles a human and does mechanical, routine tasks on command.

Just because Asimov's robots were autonomous doesn't mean that that's what the word means.

Re:Really robots? (1)

Porchroof (726270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18807799)

AC, It matters to those of us who care about the language.

Robotics Kits (2, Informative)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 7 years ago | (#18740587)

Just for the heck of it, here's a couple robot kits worth a look:

- Lego Mindstorms NXT [] (note: flash-based site with music)

The Lego Mindstorms kits have been around for a while now, but they offer almost infinite possibilities to those willing to experiment with different approaches to accomplishing a particular goal. Devices as complicated as photocopiers have been built using these kits.

- VEX Robotics Kits []

The VEX kits are fairly new compared to the Lego Mindstorms sets, but are a bit more advanced and could be dubbed as an "Erector Set", but with a brain. The VEX kits were developed in part by FIRST and were briefly distributed by Radio Shack in a move to get more people interested in robotics.

Re:Robotics Kits (1)

Workaphobia (931620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747265)

I'm not sure what state Mindstorms is in now, but I imagine it's a lot better than back when I used it, back in the days of the IR programmer. I wasn't impressed with its "infinite possibilities", which were limited to three sensors and three motors unless you felt like shelling out a few hundred dollars for more kits.

To answer the questions (2, Interesting)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18740741)


FIRST stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology".

These are not just remote-control toys. Camera systems are used for fully autonomous operation during portions of the competition. More hi-tech teams use sonar, infra-red and other devices. Indeed, for the geeks out there I'll point out that the "remove control" is actually a 900 mghz modem - not your standard little 2 joystick controller.

Teams compete in alliances of 3 robots. 2 alliances are on the field at the same time, and each trys to score the highest. Defense (aka contact) is DEFINITELY allowed, although intentional attempting to damage other robots is highly discouraged.

The motto of first is one of "Gracious Professionialism". I.e. - if your robot is broken at a competition, you can be sure of getting half a dozen teams all trying to help you get it back on the field.

There are very few limits placed on the overall robot developmenet - you must use their motors, radio system, and batteries. There is also a limit on robot weight and size.

Go over and read the rules at - or better yet, go over here and watch some of the semi-final matches at the world championships that went on in Atlanta this weekend: / []

The movies you want are at the bottom with the longer names - the semifinals and finals on that field. There are thousands of teams and this is competitive as all heck. Every big-name company you can think of that is involved in technology sponsers it - from Motorola to Ford.

Re:To answer the questions (1)

Deathanatos (811514) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746721)

I've participated on FIRST for two years now, and I'm graduating as a senior. I will miss FIRST so much... it's not just for robotics enthusiasts either. I had no real interest in robotics until I joined a team. In two short years I've learned about wiring, various sensors, what "PWM" stands for and means, and tons of other things. So has everyone else on the team. FIRST is hands on education to the max. And it's fun. To stress the parent's post's point of "Gracious professionalism" - FIRST not only encourages it, FIRST and those competing in FIRST take pride in it. A broken part is no excuse for not competing. Help, parts, info is all available - all you have to do is ask. Teams will tell you everything about their robots, lend you parts, knowledge, even walk over to your team's area to help out, when they could be spending that precious time on their robot.

Everything parent said is nose on. However, I'd like to stress that even teams that don't take advantage of the autonomous period are still building a robot. The Mars Rover is a robot, and it does get human input. Same with the FIRST robots - and it's not as simple as just plugging in a few wires. If you're in highschool, and reading slashdot, I'd definately recommend checking FIRST out, and finding a team near you.

Also, teams are not just highschools (although most are). Our team is an exception here - we encompass the entire county and then some. Anyone who thinks building a 100 lbs robot in six weeks to complete the challenge's of FIRST robotics is easy... well, they're wrong. (I'd love to see more teams in my local area.)

Many of the seniors on our team (including me) have vowed to find and mentor local FIRST teams wherever we go to college. Mostly, you have to be there to understand what FIRST really is. Watch the online videos. Find a team near you, and hang out for a Saturday afternoon - you'll probably be back next week. (We take people from all over the county, and I'm sure school-based teams wouldn't have a problem either.)

Hurray! (1)

Flyboy210 (973064) | more than 7 years ago | (#18741059)

Bobcat Robotics! Wow. We won the Philly Regional last year with them in our alliance. You always find the coolest stuff. To the Alpha Male post, you suck, because we've all seen that copy pasta on 4Chan, and that's where it should stay. This is truly a worthy subject to talk about, because it's so rewarding.

I've been in FIRST Robotics (Counting FIRST Lego League) since 2001. It's been an amazing experience, going from building little lego robots to grab boulders in 2001 to going to Atlanta to compete in 2006. It's an amazing thing, and all students should be involved in FIRST. It's very rewarding, it helps you succeed and it helps you meet a great group of people.

I want you to rtfa and think: How many times can you go to another town across the country with a football team and say "Oh Yeah, I'm from place X." and have someone know? Probably never. Try the same thing with FIRST Teams, and they will probably instantly recognize you. It's happened before, trust me. There is a camaraderie in FIRST that can't be duplicated anywhere else, and it truly showcases the minds of tomorrow, while enriching them. Not To Mention that it is a WHOLE LOT OF FUN TOO!!!

If you read this, and are in a high school, or have a parent with a child in school (anywhere from 4-6 grade to high school), start a FIRST Team. Get people together and make a team. It will draw a lot of people and bring a lot of good attention to your school, and not to mention, the local businesses and sponsors you can get. It's a great thing, and you can (and should) really consider it. It's worth every moment.

Team 007 (1)

armanox (826486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18741211)

My FIRST team beats you all. Parkville HS's number alone makes them awsome.

Re:Team 007 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18743101)

You've obviously forgotten Quincy Public School's FIRST Robotics team, Team Hyper. Their team number and the resulting mental image makes them far more awesome. []

Outstanding Program (1)

swamp boy (151038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18741221)

I participated in FIRST robotics this year as a mentor for a local school. Prior to this, I had never even heard of it. The whole thing is amazing. It gives students a fun and creative way to learn about science, math, engineering, technology, and industry. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun and I learned a lot. The regional competition was magical -- excitement and enthusiasm was difficult to imagine without seeing it in person. I think the best part of it all is the mantra "gracious professionalism" is expected at all times. I saw it plenty of times at the competition.

The robot controller was based on PIC 18x microcontrollers. Most teams used either EasyC Pro or MPLAB to program it. Robots consisted of a mixture of motors, pneumatics, electronics, and mechanics to make it work as intended. It was amazing to see some of the different designs.

I highly recommend the program to any high school student or adult who might be interested in being a volunteer or mentor.

How is this news? (1)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 7 years ago | (#18741243)

FIRST has been around for years. Its been in ESPN2 since at least 1997, when I competed. NASA and many, many other agencies and corporations have always been involved. If robotics were actually going mainstream, we would be treating this as routine by now. The only new should be who won, innovative strategies, etc. The fact that the competition itself is still treated as new and novel after all these years shows that it has failed in its basic goals.

Re:How is this news? (1)

kevlarman (983297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18743211)

i think FIRST gets slashdotted every year, at least this year they were considerate enough to not do it on kickoff when everyone needed to download large files from first's website.

Re:How is this news? (1)

Petey_Alchemist (711672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18745271)

The program has been getting some new support. At BAE this year, one of the founders of YouTube and the CEO of Encyclopedia Britannica spoke about further promoting FIRST through their respecitve outlets. Rhode Island just passed state law requiring all high schools to have FIRST teams by 2009 (IIRC).

I spoke with Dean there, and while he recognizes the success of the FIRST program in expanding to over 2000 teams, he wants it to be truly exponential growth. I don't know if it's possible. It's so hard to explain to people what FIRST is: I've been unsuccessful at establishing rookie teams at both colleges I've gone to, even though the latter was at a massive engineering university. It's difficult to get people hooked if you can't get them to the competition, but once they see a competition they've got the bug.

Slashdotters, even if you think the entire concept of "robots plus high school students" DOES "equal hilarity", please just go check out a local competition. They're easy to find on FIRST's website [] . It's an amazing program, and provides absolutely unparalled experience (and scholarship money) to budding engineers.

Disclaimer: I'm an alumnus of and mentor to Team 1073.

Re:How is this news? (1)

FreakyAntelope (827365) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746063)

The fact that the competition itself is still treated as new and novel after all these years shows that it has failed in its basic goals.

While I won't deny that it is somewhat disappointing that FIRST has not garnered more attention from the general public, your statement couldn't be farther from the truth. FIRST's primary goal is to motivate and inspire the high school students involved to pursue careers in science and technology, and as a participant myself (High school senior and captain of Team 246, BU Overclocked) as far as I can tell FIRST has been VERY successful at achieving it's goals.

According to the website at, "FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs that build not only science and technology skills and interests, but also self-confidence, leadership, and life skills."

Thousands of the high school students who are coming out of this program, myself included, have found something and have experience in something they love and want to pursue through college and, perhaps, the rest of their lives. FIRST reaches over 10,000 students every year and accomplishes more with regards to high school engineering education than any other program I have heard of. Every year it is growing and, as the article said, attracting the attention of more and more major sponsors. This year, the director of DARPA spoke before the final matches of the Championship event, pledging to become a major sponsor of FIRST over the next few years.

Given all this, I can't think of a way which FIRST *isn't* achieving its goals.

- Toby

HERD always say's it's coming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18741709)

but it never ends up getting there..

Love it (1)

Yellowknifegts (980049) | more than 7 years ago | (#18742351)

I love FIRST, I'm currently on Team TRX 145. This program is awesome, it makes me think out side of the box to play the game every year........ sadly next year will be my last year as a student member.

Founder (1)

NaNO2x (856759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18742903)

As a founder of my schools FIRST team I'd like to say this is a great opportunity for people to get into. I was a part of my team from the first year and for the next four years. One of the harder parts I had and this I'm sure had to do with the school I was in, was getting other people to work as hard s I did. I took part in building, fund raising, programming, and other overall work. While in the program and for a year or two after I started and continued a FIRST Lego League program which is a sub of the FIRST Competition. It uses the Lego Mindstorm units and has a similar competition which is again national with regional competitions. As for NASA being a huge sponsor, its true that for the first year or two they give you sponsorship but after that you have to be a fairly special team to still be in their pockets. Same goes for Microsoft and a few other of these bigger corporations. Anyway, I think its a great program for people to find, found, and get into. I've tried going back and helping out my high school team but there just doesn't seem to be enough motivation there unfortunately, I hope other people have a better time with that.

I was on my high school's "FIRST" team... (0, Troll)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18743399)

I was on my high school's team...for all of one day. The adviser grabbed all the veterans and they did all the design work off in their own little corner, leaving everyone else to stew or, if we tried to participate, be ignored.

I didn't go back. What was the point in coming in with a creative interest, if I couldn't even get my ideas critiqued?

Last week, I ran into someone who participated in FIRST at my HS a couple years later, and that seniority pattern was apparently still present.

Re:I was on my high school's "FIRST" team... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18747311)

It's true, some teams are like that. Mine makes special effort to involve everyone (and to keep the mentors from doing anything but mentoring. No touching the robot unless they're actively teaching), and from other posts, other people have described similar teams. But there are also a lot of teams that put winning over learning, and it sounds like you had the bad luck to be stuck with one of those at your high school.

FIRST isn't perfect, but there are people who understand how the program is supposed to work. Is it still a bad idea if it's a wonderful opportunity and experience for the kids on at least some of the teams?

The post I'm replying to wasn't trolling, unless I fail to understand the definition. It is, unfortunately, a perfectly valid point of view. Just don't take it as a description of the only sort of team that exists.

987 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18745103)

I have to say that team 987 was probably the best team on the alliance. You couldn't push them, and they were really fast.

CRT306 (1)

WinBreak (982501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747375)

Team #306 has been holding down some top positions over the years, considering it's a team entirely made of hard working students, and not a bunch of kids who let the engineers tell them what to do. FIRST is about the kids working out the designs and design problems, not about following instructions to some Lego-kit. Team 306 has always left every part of the work up to the students, which is why they've always been one of my favorites to watch online, since I've started following along online. If you don't watch the competition online, I encourage it - it's agood time, and the quality of the video feeds has increased over the years (as expected, but nevertheless...).
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