Re: Collegiate FIRST competition
Several observations that may be of interest:
The few robotics competitions that include high school and college teams that I have been involved with, often result in a high school team outscoring college teams. Thus the FRC game might be appropriate for college level play as well. No need to invent a new game, just a new league. It would be cheaper for FIRST and the $6000 (?) fee for the college would be relatively cheap.
A goal of a college team should be to include non engineering students. An inner disciplinary team that includes English, Art, Humanities and Business majors in an engineering project would have a very positive impact on them as well as the engineering students.
The college teams should be required to submit a Chairman's paper and presentation and both should be public. We would all learn a lot from them.
I have heard from a number of former students how disappointing freshman engineering can be. They don't really have an authentic project until their senior year. (Not everyone goes to Olin college) For the FIRSTers, it is kind of a letdown after the adrenalin rush of their high school years.
A few years ago we had a graduate young lady enter ASU's college of Construction. She was just about the only female in her classes and felt maybe she might switch majors. After class one day, one of her professors asked if she had a moment. It seems the college had to make a presentation for an important grant and the faculty felt it would help if a student was part of the team. She accepted and asked why she was chosen. The professor replied, "Since you were on a FIRST team, you know how to work on a project and make presentations." They were awarded that grant. She graduates next spring with a B.S. in general construction.
A collegiate FIRST experience would include many challenges, not just the technical skills needed to build a robot. Organization, fund raising, communications, publicity, conflict management, scheduling, community outreach, networking... All the "real world" skills future engineers need to learn and practice before graduation.