Taco Bell Arena prepares for robot invasion

Thursday the Taco Bell Arena on the Boise State University campus will be invaded by robots, big robots, each bent on defeating defenses, weakening opposition and capturing strongholds.

For the first time ever, Idaho is the host to the FIRST Robotics Regional competition, bringing 29 high school robot teams from across the country together for head-to-head “coopertition” as a part of the premier FIRST program.

FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”, is a program founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen as a means to get students excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In recent years more than 400,000 students worldwide have participated in FIRST’s four programs. The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) features teams who have constructed a large, complex robot, designed, tested and programmed over a six week “build season” to compete in the FRC Stronghold game. FRC robots may weigh in at as much as 150 pounds, may extend to over six feet high and are optimized to shoot foam ball “rocks” into their opponents castle towers, defeat six different defenses and even climb those towers for a capture at the close of a match. Matches are fast-paced, with six robots in two alliances on the game field for each match. Matches start with the robot fully in control then continue with human assistants for the rest of the match.

The FIRST program has a proven impact on students, with high percentages (>80 percent) of participating students pursuing careers in STEM or in leadership roles. Each year FIRST touches the lives of over 400,000 students through more than 38,700 teams with more than 34,000 robots, guided by over 90,000 mentors and adult supporters. The FIRST programs are supported by more than 3,500 sponsors, including corporations, educational and professional institutions. Two Idaho schools even offer dedicated college scholarships for FIRST students.

So, the competition will be exciting and the robots are sure to be interesting. Who should attend? The competition is free of charge for all spectators. Students, parents, teachers, school administrators and legislators should all attend.

Schedule:

Thursday, March 31: Event Begins!

8 a.m. —  Teams unpack robots and begin inspections.

Noon-6:30 pm — Practice Matches

Friday, April 1:

8:30 am — Opening Ceremonies with Astronaut Steve Swanson

9 am.-5:45 pm — Qualification Matches

10-11 a.m. — FIRST Lego League and FIRST Lego League Jr. Demonstrations

11 a.m.-noon — FIRST Tech Challenge Demonstration

5:45-6:15 p.m. — Awards Ceremony

Saturday, April 2:

8:30-9 a.m. — Opening Ceremony, Don Bosse FIRST CEO, Gov. Butch Otter and Micron’s Mark Durcan

9 a.m. -12:15 p.m. — Qualification Matches

10-11 a.m. — FIRST Lego League and FIRST Lego League Jr. Demonstrations

11 a.m.-noon — FIRST Tech Challenge Demonstration

12:30-1:30 p.m. — Lunch

1:30-4:30 p.m. — Elimination Rounds

4:30-6:30 p.m. — Awards and Closing

For information on FIRST, click here. To watch the game video, click here.

Written by Dean Klein, Micron’s vice president of Advance Memory Solutions.