This past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday several high school student teams from around the Western United States converged on Salt Lake City Utah and competed in the Utah's FIRST Robotics Competition regional competition.

Over 40 teams started designing in January for the Rebound Rumble challenge which involved several challenges where the robots must autonomously make some basketball baskets shots and then the wireless controlled manual portion gathering the balls and shooting them for points as well as some obstacles and cooperation challenges where one robot helps another over an obstacle. In between the events there is fun trivia and entertainment like music and dancing to keep the crowds energy going.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded by Inventor and Engineer Dean Kamen in 1989 with the vision:
"To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders." I was fortunate enough to attend on Friday and Saturday and meet many of the teams. Autodesk is a proud supporter and sponsor of FIRST Robotics and provides software and support for the teams in the Autodesk Education Community’s FRC Program.

Students interested in engineering + robots + music = AWESOME

Here are some photos I took with my phone.

Regional Winners

  • Team 2403 Team Plasma of Mesa Arizona. The team used Autodesk Inventor to wow those in attendance with their rotating 3D model on their laptop in their booth. The team was also a regional winner in the competition with their robot. This robot would be a welcome addition to any NBA team with its ball gathering and shooting skills.
  • Team 3230 Protoypex from Salt Lake City Utah
  • Team 3254 The Ravens
Engineering Inspiration Award

FIRST Dean’s List Finalist Award

  • Caitlin Vitale-Sullivan of Team 1569
  • TJ Houze of Team 4348
Regional Chairman's Award

  • Team 3456 LiveWire of Pocatello Idaho (3 high schools, 4 coaches, 5 thousand hours, 6 weeks of building) (This was an amazing and energetic team!!!)
The FIRST Finals 2012 will be in St. Louis April 25-28, 2012 and live streamed by NASA webcast.

It was a great and entertaining event seeing all the different ideas in the designs and everyone so pumped up.* In speaking to several of the teams it was clear that more mentors are needed. I was asked and by at least 4 teams for the 2013 competition season and looking forward to it. It was nice to see a real mix of boys and girls as both should be active and involved as math, science, and engineering is indeed cool and fun. I would strongly recommend you go to a regional or finals event if you live near a location one is being held or better yet get involved or support a local team. To learn more checkout and for younger children checkout the FIRST LEGO League.

It is all our responsibility to get our youth to get involved in math science and engineering.

Congratulations to everyone who participated, volunteered, sponsored, mentored, and the students that participated in this competition.