Get there… FIRST!
By Ruth Beran
Gather your party and build a robot.
Building a powerful robot was just part of the Macquarie University FIRST robotics Competition experience for Liesel Brock.
She also got to travel to Hawaii to compete with teams of high school students from around the world, develop a business plan, raise funds and give research presentations.
Now in her first year of a Bachelor of Engineering/Science combined degree at Macquarie University, she says, “I’m not sure I would have done engineering if it wasn’t for FIRST.”
The Macquarie University FIRST robotics competition sees teams design, build and program robots within a strict time frame of six weeks, and then compete using the robots in a variety of challenges.
“Every year the theme changes – in 2012 it was basketball, in 2013 it was frisbee, while 2014 it was a big pilates ball that you had to move from one robot to another,” says Macquarie Uni electronics and software engineer Mike Heimlich.
Teams converge in international competitions, usually held in the USA, and are expected to compete with each other and also to collaborate and complete tasks with other teams.
There are comps closer to home, too. Every year, Australian robot teams compete at Barker College in Sydney in the Duel Down Under, sponsored by Macquarie University. And in 2015, the FIRST Robotics Competition Regional will be held at Olympic Park.
For Liesel, Macquarie University FIRST robotics gave her exposure to technology, CS and problem-solving. It helped to build her skills in research, time management and teamwork. And now she is mentoring other students.
“You’re learning, but you can forgive that fact because you’re having so much fun doing it!”
Get involved! Macquarie University FIRST robotics comp
TO GET THERE: comp.mq.edu.au
Author: STEM Contributor
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