Lunacy Invades Williams Arena
I had a blast on Friday and Saturday as a judge for the FIRST Robotics - Minnesota 10,000 Lakes Regional Competition, a game called Lunacy, that took over Williams Arena. High school students from all over the Midwest brought their robots to the competition. The Lunacy game is too complicated to explain here. It did challenge the student designers to come up with successful game strategies and robot designs carried through on the strategy. I was impressed with teams from other states where the whole community was engaged, along with the students. Many Minnesota teams did very well but I ended up concluding that Minnesota needed to up our game if we want to realize the full potential of our students. Steve Crouch, the Dean at the U of M's Institute of Technology is a strong advocate for the program. School efforts could be given more state, community and business support.
Besides demonstrating their engineering ability, students solved complex design, organizational and team challenges. Teachers and community mentors and sponsors were essential to success. The other cool part of the competition was the expectation of "gracious professionalism". Teams helped each other out with parts and advice and then competed like crazy during the game. Here's a link to the web page.
FIRST stand for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology". It was certainly an inspiration.