Kids & Robots Fight for $9.5M

Students from six North County high schools are at the San Diego Sports Arena to pitch their homemade robots against those made by student teams from the Southwest.

“We’re having a celebration about science, engineering and technology,” First Western Regional Director Jim Beck said.
Opening ceremonies and initial matches were held Friday.  Teams of three with a single robot try to score as many points as possible by using their robots to place balls in their opponents’ trailer.

“One of the greatest things is that we’re actually turning on young people to engineering, science, technology and math,” Beck said. “We’re offering $9.5 million in scholarships for these young people to go to major universities across the county.”

The annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition is an increasingly popular varsity sport of the mind that integrates science and technology with innovation and engineering.

“What we’re finding is after a number of years, these students are now graduating and coming back to the work force, Beck said.  “These are individuals, many times, that come from under served areas and are deciding to pursue careers in engineering where they would not normally do so.”

Although not all students who participate in the competition deem themselves as mathematicians or rocket scientists, some students find the social interaction and collective spirit gratifying.

“We’re also finding there’s a great link between our programs and what’s happening in business and industry and believe me, business and industry are taking our graduates and in this downed economy, they’re hiring,” Beck said.
Final rounds and an awards ceremony will be held Saturday afternoon.

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