Wednesday, February 15, 2012

FIRST Robotics Competition in Tasmania?

The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is competition that runs from January each year (, and is getting started in Australia. Until now, there has been only one FRC team from Australia, Team 3132 aka The Thunder Down Under ( Last December I had the opportunity to meet members of this team at Macquarie University in Sydney and was tremendously impressed by their commitment and enthusiasm.

Is there interest in putting together a Tasmanian FRC team?

To make this happen we will need mentors (not just engineers, but a few of those would be pretty handy!!), sponsors, a venue to meet, and some keen high-school/college students. FRC teams can be huge - dozens of students and adult mentors! Check out this photo of Team 3132 for example... And there are heaps of different roles, from electrical and mechanical engineering to marketing, fund-raising and project management

Although it's too late to join the current FRC season, Macquarie University in Sydney is planning to host a "Duel Down Under" of its own using this year's game, "Rebound Rumble". The event will be held in Sydney on June 28-30th.

The rookie kits, which have the National Instruments cRIO microcontroller will not cost the usual US$6500. FIRST is cutting us a deal and they will be US$5000. Even so, we will need some serious sponsorship to cover the cost of the kit, let alone travel to attend the event in Sydney.

The benefits of participating in a project like this will be tremendous for all concerned, so I'm not so concerned about the money at this stage. In my experience, these sorts of things tend to sort themselves out.

What I want to know is do we have a critical mass of interest in getting something started here in Tasmania?

Let me know if you're interested!!