Students from around the world had 45 days to brainstorm, design, prototype, build and program a robot that put their mechanical, physics, programming and business skills to the test at the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) world championship. Held in St. Louis, Missouri, the championship attracted more than 40,000 people and was the culmination of the 2015 FIRST season.
Teams from FIRST Australia were excited to achieve some unprecedented successes in the world’s largest robotic event. The Macquarie University based team; ‘Thunder Down Under’ won both the robot game and the overall Engineering Inspiration Award for outreach and community engagement in their division from a field of 76 robots representing the top FRC teams this year. This qualified the
‘Thunder Down Under’ team to play in ‘Einstein’, the elite grand final competition.
“To the best of our knowledge this is the best any team has ever done in divisional play. We are the first Australian team to get this far and the only international team to play for the grand final. We were eliminated in the quarterfinals but did not get the wooden spoon at this most prestigious level.
Our performance made us one of only four teams from nearly 3000 total to receive a NASA sponsorship and an automatic berth at next year’s championship,” said Michael Heimlich, CORE Professor at Macquarie University.
“FIRST has really only been in Australia for about six years so to be able to play at the highest level (Einstein) really makes a statement about how far Australian FRC has come in a few short years,” he continued.
FIRST’s mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting Mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
Rockwell Automation is a key global sponsor for FIRST and is committed to encouraging students to study a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) field at university. The program gives teams the opportunity to design and build mechanical, electrical and software controls systems, as well as integrate them all into one remote-controlled machine.