Posted: Dec 15, 2012 4:37 PM by Jonathan Kershaw
Updated: Dec 17, 2012 1:37 PM
Nothing less than an A game in problem-solving, teamwork, and improvising will work. That's what any of these student robotics designers will tell you. So much can go wrong, but when it all goes right, the chance for world-wide glory is the prize.
"These kids get to work on engineering, they get to work on building, electronics, wiring," says Pippin Wallace, an official and an Affiliate Partner for the competition. "There's not a lot of constraints in terms of what they can do outside of a certain box of parts that they have. The sky's the limit."
Some of the thirty six teams from across Montana are battling it out in two 12 foot square arenas inside the Montana Tech HPER. Alliances are made, then broken, then remade just to ensure a team's robot excels at the task it was design for, whether it's placing a ring on the highest rack possible, playing defense and blocking other robots, or lifting another robot off the ground for big bonus points.
"Some of these teams and their coaches have been doing this for 6 or 7 years," said Allisin Bonfield, another official. "It's a stim in terms of getting them thinking about math and science and engineering and the design process."
Teams who qualify will get a chance to move on to the Montana State Championship, then possible the world championship. Millions of dollars of scholarship money are on the line, but most would say the experience and training picked up along the way is the ultimate prize.
"It's fun," say members of Team 178 from Ronan. "It's an adrenaline rush when you're out there. Even when you're losing. It's fun to see how it works, what you can change
"Several months of planning all culminates to this point. It's just absolutely exciting to be here."
The next First Tech Challenge World Championship will be held in April in St. Louis Missouri.