Some of you know that I’ve spent 8 years being a mentor to various robotics teams my son has been on. He’s since graduated (getting a Computer Engineering degree) but I’ve stuck around as the programming mentor (in fact I’m starting another team at the middle school level next fall). The high school team is going to the World Championships in Houston for the 2nd year in a row and it’s quite expensive to go. There, they will compete with over 400 teams from around the world. Some of those 400 teams will be rookie teams, some will be tournament champions, and some will be random chance teams. Regardless, the competition is incredible.
Going to Worlds is an incredible experience (we went last year) where 6 fields are setup and 6 mini tournaments all find their division champions and then everything gets moved to MinuteMaid field for the Finals. FIRST has this concept of Gracious Professionalism that is really cool to see in action as teams compete against each other but mostly just help each other. These kids are going to be the future engineers and scientists of the world. This year universities and corporations are giving out over $80 million in scholarship funds (my son is at his university because of a robotics scholarship). I feel this program can’t be hyped enough.
As a mentor I’ve spent well over 160 hours since January helping them design, build, and program their 120 pound robot. The kids spend even more time.
HBO’s Real Sports did a segment on the championships from last year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18OCZz8yKtU Well done segment and captures some of the chaos and enthusiasm of the event. You can’t see our team in the clip but we partnered with one of the Israeli teams in the elimination rounds and they are the team that does the big overhead hand claps.
Going to Worlds is not inexpensive. They had a major corporate sponsor fall through this year so they need help covering expenses. They’ve set up a GoFundMe account at https://www.gofundme.com/1982-cougar-robotics-team. Any help you might provide is most graciously accepted!