St. Louis Spectacular: Student Robot Builders Battle in FIRST Medieval-Themed Competition

More than 20,000 student inventors and their armed robots battled for medieval-themed strongholds over four days of brisk competition at last week’s FIRST Championship.

Citrus Circuits from Davis Senior High School, in Davis, California, work on their robot at FIRST Robotics competition in St. Louis.
Citrus Circuits from Davis Senior High School, in Davis, California, work on their robot at FIRST Robotics competition in St. Louis.

Five of the 20 high school teams we backed in this year’s competition were among the 600 teams in St. Louis for the finals with their battle-ready robots. At stake: $25 million in college scholarships.

Our 2016 teams, which this year included one from Israel and three all-girl groups, built robots around FIRST’s theme of capturing a castle tower stronghold. Teams competed in regional events to reach the final competition, aided in part by our Jetson TX1 or TK1 embedded computing developer kits.

Designed to drive student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the competitions are run by FIRST, a nonprofit founded more than two decades ago by Segway inventor Dean Kamen.

Build a Bot

We also co-sponsored a FIRST alumni event that included mentors, coaches and teams that had received various honors during the competition. The event included opportunities to talk to students about internship opportunities and careers at NVIDIA.

This year, the entire FIRST robotics competition drew in 75,000 students on more than 3,000 teams from two dozen countries. Teams were challenged to fundraise, show how they worked together, create their brand, and design, build and program a robot that performed robust tasks against competitors.

The teams could take part in other mini-competitions run by companies attending the event. We offered prizes from our booth for students who “Snapped a Selfie with a Jetson TX1” and hosted demos on deep learning and games for kids to play.

Collaborative Competition

AngelBotics team from East High School in Denver, Colorado, test their robot at the FIRST Robotics Champtionship in St. Louis
AngelBotics team from East High School in Denver, Colorado, test their robot at the FIRST Robotics Champtionship in St. Louis.

Teams in St. Louis competed against each other in timed matches, while making last-minute adjustments to their custom-built bots. In this year’s game, teams formed alliances to work together to breach their opponents’ fortifications.

Robots scored points by breaching defenses and tossing giant boulders through goals the opponent’s tower.

During the final 20 seconds of the match, robots were allowed to surround and scale the opposing tower to capture it. Roars from the crowd celebrated the four winning teams.

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