Cathy Dyson writes about King George County.
Dahlgren-sponsored team earns awards and a poem
Judges at the FIRST Robotics Competition in the greater Washington area praised a team mentored by the Navy base at Dahlgren, both creatively and poetically.
FIRST represents For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, and the competition, which included 49 teams, was held March 29-30 at the Patriot Center at George Mason University.
FIRST Team 339 Kilroy was sponsored by the National Defense Education Program and mentored by scientists and engineers from the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.
Team Kilroy included high-school students from Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties. The team earned the Industrial Design Award and the following poem, written by the judges:
There once was a team that came from multiple places,
Inventing a clean and elegant robot from distributed bases.
In the D.C. Regional with confidence they came,
But alas, they were pushed around looking so tame.
Some changes were needed as they were bent out of shape,
But low and behold, their modular design worked better than duct tape.
Rod and wheel swapping was simple and done with such joy.
The winner of Industrial Design—here is Kilroy!
This year’s game was called “Aerial Assist,” and teams had six weeks to design and build a robot that could shoot exercise balls through goals. The robot could be up to 5 feet tall and weigh 120 pounds.
Kilroy finished fifth, and judges recognized it as one of the top three safe teams.
“We are proud of our students’ efforts,” said Jim Smith, a computer engineer at Dahlgren. “It’s important to remember that their awards are only the beginning. The skills students develop on a FIRST team will empower them to begin STEM careers that may include contributions to the nation.”
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Navy base mentors also worked with FIRST Team 2402, known as the RoboJackets. The team competed at the FIRST Robotics Virginia Regional Competition and represented James Monroe High School and Walker–Grant Middle School in Fredericksburg.
The RoboJackets competed against 64 teams at the event, held in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center, March 20-22.
Neither local team qualified to compete at the FIRST Robotics World Championship in St. Louis, but the students have big plans for future competitions.
Of the 10 students who competed at regionals, eight were rookies and four still in middle school.
“We can’t wait to see how much more this group can accomplish as they continue to grow and learn with the FIRST progression of programs,” said Marin Kobin, a computer scientist.
The RoboJackets will host a FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST LEGO League off-season event at James Monroe on Saturday, May 10.