FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) recently held the Asia Pacific Open FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Championship and Invitational FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC).
The biggest FIRST tournament to be run in Australia to date, the Rockwell Automation sponsored event attracted participation by teams from all over the world who travelled to Sydney to compete at Macquarie University. Attended by more than 60 teams from 20 countries, the teams were selected by the FIRST authorities in their respective countries.
Rockwell Automation is one of the key global partners for FIRST at the international level and was recently given the Founder’s award for their continuing sponsorship of FIRST at the World Championships in St. Louis, USA. Rockwell Automation has sponsored the FIRST program in Australia and New Zealand over the last two years.
Mauro DelleMonache, Marketing Director at Rockwell Automation explains that their local sponsorship of the FIRST program builds on a longstanding relationship between the two organisations in the United States.
In Australia, FIRST is co-ordinated by Professor Michael Heimlich of Macquarie University’s Faculty of Science. Professor Heimlich explains that FIRST encourages students to study science, technology, engineering and maths at university, and considers Rockwell Automation’s endorsement for the program as significant. He adds that the rich history of Rockwell Automation with FIRST globally gives FIRST Australia a high degree of legitimacy at the local and national level.
The Asia Pacific Invitational (API) was filled with fun, innovation, and enthusiasm. The top awards in both robot performance and overall excellence went to teams from the USA, the latter taken home by Team Beta from Iowa, USA who have been instrumental in working with ‘Thunder Down Under’ to create a virtual FTC technology to allow outback Australian teams to participate in national tournaments.
There were two teams from Australia competing in the FTC portion of the event. The ‘Think Award’ was won by a team from Camden, New South Wales called FTC=MAS^FUN (pronounced F-T-C equals mass to the power of fun’) for their engineering notebook and gracious professionalism.
The Champions Award, which is the top award for the FIRST Lego League went to a team from India and the top robot performance award went to a Chinese team that set the world record for the best robot score. Three teams from Australia participated in the competition and Wollongong's ‘Project Bucephalus’ won an award for their technical accomplishments in programming the robot.
The FIRST Robotic Challenge (FRC) - Dual Down Under - was round one of the API, where teams put their robots to the test in a game of ultimate Frisbee. The robot game was won by an alliance composed of the team at Macquarie Uni ‘Thunder Down Under’ and the team at Curtin Uni ‘Curtain Robotics’ with their respective robots, Ikara and Taurus. Thunder Down Under is the original FRC Team in Australia and is hosted by Macquarie University and sponsored by Rockwell Automation. The top overall award was won by Team Melbourne for their contribution to growing FIRST in the Melbourne area.
State Sales Manager for New South Wales at Rockwell Automation, Sean Smith says FIRST is a great program that encourages students to build on their studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and to pursue a career in these disciplines by providing them with an important insight into real life engineering applications.