Thursday, August 6, 2009

RoboCup Junior Tasmania 2009

RoboCup Junior Tasmania continues to get both bigger *and* better each year! The ninth statewide robotics competition for school students was held at the University of Tasmanaia, Hobart on Friday 31 July and Saturday 1 August.

It was great to see so many former SmartBots participants in the competition. There were also plenty of schools that started with SmartBots but have since moved on to develop their own robotics programs. I'm not sure how any schools were represented altogether, but I estimate the more than a third of participating schools had been involved with SmartBots at some stage over the last three years.

After being directly involved with the organisation of this event for seven years, it was a nice change to be able to come along and help a bit, but still have plenty of time to watch lots of the action.

One of the big improvements this year was the division of the Dance callenge into Dance and Dance Theatre. This is a very welcome addition, and helps make it much easier for newcomers to compete in Dance. This year’s dance entries seemed to be at a much more consistent and higher standard than in past years, so I think something is working.

I particularly enjoyed Andy Muirhead's and Chris Letchford’s closing comments. Andy is a fantastic speaker and created a great sense of being part of something amazing. I loved his comment about never having been so excited about seeing a can lifted onto a box. Chris Letchford from the School of Engineering had a tough act to follow but, as always, he made a great case for studying engineering. He observed that it's been 400 years since Galileo improved and used the telescope, and 40 years since man first walked on the moon. What's next?

I think I’m finally realising what a good idea Senior Rescue is, and wondering if it might be possible to extend Senior Rescue up to the end of college? I think it should still be restricted to participants who are competing for the first time, but it would certainly make it easier for a number of my college students to just get started.

Congratulations to all the participants and their mentors, and big thanks to the organising committee for running such a great event.

I'm looking forward to 2011!


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