Future engineers compete in FIRST Robotics Competition this weekend

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on March 18, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 18 at 12:52 PM

CHANDLER, Ariz. – Students from all over Arizona are in Chandler for this weekend’s FIRST Robotics Competition at Hamilton High School.

FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” and the competition has been dubbed “varsity sports for the mind.”

According to its website, “FRC combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors.”

With just six weeks to design and build their robots, it’s as close to real-world engineers as a high-school student can get. Volunteer mentors guide the teams, giving them the benefit of their experience and expertise.

Not only are the kids looking to advance in the competition – possibly to the international level – they are also looking to qualify for more than $12 million in college scholarships.

April Warnecke was at Hamilton High School as the teams warmed up their ‘bots and got ready for the opening ceremonies, and there was a loud and rowdy (but good-natured) crowd on hand to cheer on the competitors.

More than 40 teams, including groups from Southern California, New Mexico and Mexico, were registered for this weekend's regional competition, which runs through Saturday.

Winners from each of the regional competitions have the opportunity to go to St. Louis for the championship next month.

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