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Robotics Competition: Tomorrow's Tech Talent Has Game
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SciencePro
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SciencePro,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/9/2013 | 6:56:50 PM
re: Robotics Competition: Tomorrow's Tech Talent Has Game
David - this is one of the best articles I've EVER seen about FIRST. Thanks for really taking the time to learn the ins and outs of this awesome program! I've been involved for four years now, first as a student and now as a college mentor. My experience in FIRST equipped me with both technical skills and confidence to obtain a software engineering internship at a Fortune 500 tech company as a freshman in college, a fairly unusual feat. I hope articles like this continue to spread FIRST to those who don't know about it and expose that more people to the great benefits of this amazing program. Also - nice name, mine's the same :)
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
4/4/2013 | 5:07:29 PM
re: Robotics Competition: Tomorrow's Tech Talent Has Game
Thanks for your comment. I definitely saw that dynamic at work as well. Also, the approach of having an alliance of 3 teams win the competition, rather than a single team, is very interesting and mirrors the partnerships of the business world.

Although I didn't write about it, several people I spoke with mentioned the principle of "gracious professionalism" as a founding principle of the organization, which is one way they promote the attitude you're talking about.

See http://www.usfirst.org/aboutus...
Ethan Kalfus
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Ethan Kalfus,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/3/2013 | 7:13:49 PM
re: Robotics Competition: Tomorrow's Tech Talent Has Game
I found Dan Richardson's comment about how the competitiveness of the robotics league captured his fascination. The spirit of the competition is a paradox - at times competitive, yes, but also cooperative.

My son, Billy, is a member of the Pascack Pioneers of River Vale, NJ. During last year's competition, another team's robot suffered mechanical failure. Billy provided assistance, fixing their robot. When I asked him, "Aren't you helping the competition?", his response was, "It's not a competition to me. It's all about helping and learning from each other".

As well, at the end of each match, teams tried to balance their robot on a "coopertition" bridge with the other team's robot, even nudging a sluggish competitor's robot with their own to accomplish the feat, in order to earn extra points.

Teams also regularly cheer for other teams.

So, while each team certainly wants to win, members exude a spirit sorely lacking in the win-at-all-costs world of sports. Learning how to win is important; learning to do so with grace and humility is equally important.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
4/3/2013 | 4:54:00 PM
re: Robotics Competition: Tomorrow's Tech Talent Has Game
BTW, I know the $60,000 / $80,000 budgets some of these teams throw around sound pretty scary to educators operating on a slim budget, but those are the budgets of long-established championship teams who've built up significant backing from commercial sponsors. Also, the budgets have to get higher if those teams make it into the championship and need to travel across the country. I talked to other teams that did respectably well on something more like a $10,000 budget -- still a lot, I know.

As one of the adult leaders says in the story, that experience of asking for the big bucks from the CEO of a potential donor company is almost as valuable as the robot-building experience itself. Watch out when these kids hit the work world with that mix of technical and business knowledge.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
4/3/2013 | 12:37:50 AM
re: Robotics Competition: Tomorrow's Tech Talent Has Game
I took my daughters to one of these robotics competitions a few years back, and it was spectacular. Held in a downtown arena, fans from the different schools were screaming and cheering with all the intensity of an overtime basketball game. Genius.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
4/2/2013 | 7:11:51 PM
re: Robotics Competition: Tomorrow's Tech Talent Has Game
I smiled at this quote from one of the teens: "I loved people, I just didn't know how to talk to people." How many of us work with adults who still don't know how to talk to people? Chat with any IT recruiter and you will hear communication is the skill you can't fake and you can't do without.

Laurianne McLaughlin
InformationWeek


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