FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology),
sponsored by Rockwell Automation, recently held the Hawaii Regional FIRST
Robotics Competition in Honolulu. One of the key global partners for the FIRST
program, Rockwell Automation was the recipient of the Founder’s Award at the
World Championships last year in St Louis, USA for their continued sponsorship.
The Hawaii Regional FIRST Robotics Competition saw a strong contingent
of Australian teams showcasing their science and technology skills. Of the almost
40 teams from five countries participating in this year’s Hawaii Regional, five
teams were from Australia – Thunder Down Under (NSW), Rowville Secondary
College (Victoria), Drop Bears (NSW), Roos (SA) and AI Robotics (Victoria).
Thunder Down Under was particularly successful in Hawaii, finishing as
the recipient of the Entrepreneurship Award, Woodie Flowers Award, a Dean’s
List Finalist and runner-up for the Safety Award.
In the highly contested Aerial Assist robot game, Thunder Down Under
finished in the top eight and qualified as an alliance leader for the
elimination rounds. Rowville Secondary College also made the Australian
contingent proud by winning the Rookie Inspiration Award.
The Australian chapter of FIRST is co-ordinated by Professor Michael
Heimlich of Macquarie University’s Faculty of Science. According to Professor
Heimlich, Rockwell Automation continues to make a significant contribution by
providing endorsement to the FIRST program.
He explained that the biggest impact is made on the participants
themselves, who are undertaking real engineering, going to university, and
developing an understanding of the importance of science and technology.
Professor Heimlich adds that the official Australian Regional FIRST
competition has been approved for 2015 and is tentatively scheduled for 20-22
March in Sydney. Teams from all over Asia Pacific, as well as the United
States, are planning to participate in this event.