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Unread 04-18-2002, 08:52 AM
Kyle Fenton Kyle Fenton is offline
GET IT ON!!
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Excelent Article on the UTC Regional by the NY Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/18/te...ts/18BUIL.html


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Unread 04-18-2002, 09:05 AM
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Good article. Thanks for the link and the subscription. I will now get e-mail allerts!
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Unread 04-18-2002, 12:11 PM
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Elgin Clock Elgin Clock is offline
updates this status less than FB!
AKA: the one who "will break into your thoughts..."
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Can you copy it and put it in text fomat in this thread
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Unread 04-18-2002, 03:02 PM
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Rich Wong Rich Wong is offline
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NY Times-
April 18, 2002
High Schools Vie to Build a Robotic Champ

NEW HAVEN -- THE robot known as Rhode Warrior was due back on the playing field in less than 20 minutes, and the cramped pit area in which it was parked was a hive of urgent activity.
Students from Middletown High School in Middletown, R.I., clustered to discuss refinements in their strategy for the next match. In one corner, a student's mother worked on a sewing machine, mending one of the two conveyor belts that allow the Rhode Warrior, which looks like a rolling phone booth, to vacuum up soccer balls from the field. David Ferreira, a Middletown High alumnus who returns each year to assist the team, knelt to reattach a small aluminum plate that helps guide balls between the conveyor belts and into the robot.
"Repair? We don't believe in that word," Mr. Ferreira said, leaning out from behind the robot and breaking into a broad grin. "This is just tweaking."
Middletown High's Rhode Warrior was one of 63 machines that faced off here in early April at the New England regionals of the robotics competition known as First. The event in New Haven, which required teams of students to collaborate with professional engineers to build a robot using a standardized kit of parts, was a prelude to the national championships to be held April 25 to 27 in Orlando, Fla.
The First season (the acronym stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) runs from January through April. Nearly 650 high schools in the United States and Canada field teams of roughly 15 to 20 students. The program was started in 1992 by Dean Kamen, a National Medal of Technology winner and the inventor of the Segway Human Transporter, and Woodie Flowers, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their goal was to expose high school students to the joys of tackling technical challenges and encourage them to consider careers in science and engineering.
Mr. Kamen and Dr. Flowers have built First into the country's largest robotics competition: 16,000 people, including the spectators, typically attend the national championships, and each robot is plastered, Nascar-style, with the logos of sponsors like General Motors, NASA and Motorola. But First's organizers have suddenly found First overshadowed on the pop culture landscape by the television show "BattleBots," which pits two robot warriors against each other in a duel — and by the similarly combative high school robotics tournament that the show's creators started up last year with the help of some First veterans and a protégé of Dr. Flowers at M.I.T.

part 1
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Unread 04-18-2002, 03:03 PM
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part 2
Both First and BattleBots IQ, the high school and middle school tournament based on the television show, promote robot-building as an educational and enriching team-building experience. But while First's founders design games that require robots to perform tasks like scooping up balls and pushing wheeled bins, the goal in BattleBots is to pound one's opponent into inoperability. "It's what kids want to do," said Trey Roski, a co-founder of BattleBots. "They want to fight. It's instinctual."
For Dr. Flowers, that premise is troubling. "Philosophically, I worry about celebrating killing the other thing," he said. He coined the term "gracious professionalism" to inculcate in First participants a sense of the importance not just of winning but of helping other teams along the way too.
The two robotic-battle organizers seem to be girding for a rumble of their own for the loyalty of high school students and teachers, as BattleBots IQ outlines plans to grow from 17 schools in its inaugural season to 50 next year and wraps up a deal with the WB Network to create a television show featuring the students' robots.
First also hopes to keep expanding, with a goal of eventually reaching every high school in the nation. The plan involves a simpler kit that would enable first-year teams to build a competitive robot in less time, and a made-for-TV movie about the program that would be broadcast on ABC's "Wonderful World of Disney." The movie will star Noah Wylie of "E.R." as a teacher who supervises a First team at an inner-city school in California.
At the First regional competition at the New Haven Coliseum, the crowd's energy level rivaled that of a homecoming football game. But to the uninitiated, what transpired on the field was as opaque as a livestock auction. The cooperative aspect started with the pairings: in each match, two schools were assigned to combine forces on either side. The pairs of robots, the red team and the blue team, began the two-minute match in opposite end zones. Operated by students from behind a clear plastic barrier, the robots scurried toward three rolling bins in the center of the field and tried to fill the bins with soccer balls lined up on either edge of the field. Then they would try to drag the bins into designated "scoring zones" and return to the end zone.
Points were awarded to the team that put the most balls into the bins, pushed the most bins into their scoring zones and returned the most robots to their end zone. The catch was that when the match was over, the winning team was awarded three times the points that the losing team had scored. This was to discourage blowouts, and it was not unusual to see a team that had pulled far ahead helping score points for the opponent.
Loud pop music surged over the Coliseum's public-address system. Students had painted their faces and dyed their hair in their team colors, and they handed out buttons promoting their robots. Dr. Flowers, who served as the competition's master of ceremonies, wore a small ponytail and a khaki vest festooned with buttons given to him by students. A large video screen and a play-by-play announcer kept the audience informed on what was happening in each match. When fumes from Robot No. 293 indicated distress, the announcer exclaimed, "They're smoking — and this is a no-smoking venue!"
Before and after a match the students would huddle around their robots in the pit area, trying to figure out why balls were getting stuck or why their robot had failed to respond to commands. At a previous event, "our belts got stretched out and the tower got jammed," said Synthia Lux Tonn, the driver on the Middletown High team. "But it seems to be working better this weekend." Ms. Tonn, a senior, said that building robots was "more interesting than problem sets, because it's applying what you know." She plans to attend M.I.T. in the fall.
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Unread 04-18-2002, 03:04 PM
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Rich Wong Rich Wong is offline
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part 3

Taking part in one regional competition and the national championships costs roughly $9,000, though it is not unusual for teams to spend $30,000 or more over the course of a single season when travel costs are included. Some teams find a sponsor with deep pockets to cover most of their costs, but the Middletown team was not that lucky, so the students held bake sales, a spaghetti dinner and a car wash to raise money.
Ms. Tonn said that robotics was still regarded as a fringe activity rather than as a mainstream sport at Middletown High. The team's trophies are not displayed in the school's trophy case. "Kids at my school couldn't care less," she said. "We're mocked. We're definitely mocked."
Match time was approaching. The team loaded the Rhode Warrior onto a dolly and pushed it through the crowded aisles of the pit area, crying out, "Robot coming through!" Middletown was paired with a team from New Hampshire. Ms. Tonn drove the robot with a sure touch; it swiftly sucked up a line of soccer balls from one side of the field, effortlessly deposited them into a bin, and pulled the bin into scoring position. Middletown and its partner won, 49-40.
The action on the playing field was strikingly different at the BattleBots IQ tournament, held for the first time in March in a cavernous soundstage at Universal Studios in Orlando. In the center of the soundstage, framed on three sides by bleachers, was a large plexiglass cube in which the matches took place. Saws popping up from the floor and heavy hammers hanging at the corners of the cube were controlled by students trying to damage the opposing team's robots. But the pit area was similar to those of First competitions: teams freely shared tools, spare parts and advice.
Among those who helped start the BattleBots IQ program are Nola Garcia, who still runs a Miami-based First team, and Michael Bastoni, a teacher from Plymouth North High School in Massachusetts who formerly took part in First and now fields teams for BattleBots IQ. Alex Slocum, an M.I.T. professor who studied under Dr. Flowers and works down the hall from him, helped write the robot-building guidelines.
In one confrontation, a robot built by students from Hauppauge High School on Long Island got caught under one of the hammers and endured a series of nasty whacks, one of which immobilized it, ending the match. Afterward, a man swept the metal shavings from the ring, and team members in blue coveralls and hard hats carried their robot into the pit area, where they analyzed what had happened. After removing its dented skin, they discovered the problem: a disconnected battery.
Some teams, like the one from Hauppauge, competed this year in both First and BattleBots IQ. Others at the BattleBots tournament were new to robotics competitions altogether, like the four schools from the Pueblo School District in Colorado, one of which fielded Tetanus, a menacing robot with a rusty blade that spun at 1500 rpm. A few schools had shifted from First to BattleBots IQ, citing the lower cost of taking part (a registration fee of $100 per team, plus whatever the team decides to spend on robot materials), the simpler game rules and the possibility of winding up on television or even having their robot transformed into a toy. (BattleBots has a licensing deal with Hasbro and says it will share toy and television royalties with schools that take part. First emphasizes the $1.2 million in scholarships that it will hand out this season.)
Can the two programs co-exist peacefully, bringing robotics competitions to a larger number of schools?
Dr. Flowers said that he believed that the educational merits of participating in First and in BattleBots IQ could "be quite equivalent" but that he worried about the safety issues raised by BattleBots. "If I were a principal, would I want students building something overtly dangerous?" he said. "It just scares me. And I'd be disappointed if it turns out that we need destruction for something to be interesting."
Mr. Bastoni said that the BattleBots IQ program enforced rigorous safety rules. "There is room for diversity," he said, noting that the Olympic Games include aggressive sports like boxing and hockey along with diving and figure skating.
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Unread 04-18-2002, 03:07 PM
Unsung FIRST Hero
Rich Wong Rich Wong is offline
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part 4

Still, sniping between the two groups occasionally flares up. Mr. Roski of BattleBots has said that engineers, not students, do too much of the work on First robots; Mr. Kamen has argued that civilization does not advance by one group's demolishing the achievements of another, but rather by building something superior.
Odd as it may seem, the initial peace overtures seem to be coming from the organizers of Battlebots IQ.
"Kids love First and they love BattleBots," Ms. Garcia said. "They're two different engineering exercises. If I like chocolate ice cream, I can like vanilla, too."




I remember your Team from NYC Regional.

Oh, and some great picture of your teammates too.

Your guys are National and International!
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