Student entrepreneurship hub showcases FIRST Robotics technologies

March 17, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Anvil, a community co-working space and business incubator located near the Purdue University campus, held a robotics showcase in which area high school students presented their robotic inventions in preparation for the upcoming Purdue FIRST Boilermaker Regional event of the First Robotics Competition. The event is Thursday through Saturday (March 19-21) in the Purdue Armory, 813 Third St.

About 250 local high school students, college students, parents and community members attended the open house for four local For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics High School teams. The FIRST Robotics Competition is a national initiative to combine the strength of sport with the energy of science and technology. Each year high school students in teams of 25 from around the country are challenged to build an operational robot that can perform an assigned task. The task for this year is Recycle RUSH, a task that requires robots to recycle "litter and other trash."

"After six weeks of designing and building their machines, the teams showcased and tested the robots they designed specifically for the game it would play for this season's competition," said Steve Florence, FIRST Robotics regional director for Indiana. "Recycle RUSH is a recycling-themed game played by two alliances with three robots each. Robots score points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter."

Teams are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors.

The teams in attendance included the Westside Boiler Invasion from West Lafayette High School, Precision Guesswork's from Lafayette Jefferson High School, Harrison Boiler Robotics from William Henry Harrison High School and Maverick Boiler Robotics from McCutcheon High School. Each team showcased its robots and explained how they worked.

"This event was to allow the students to show off all their hard work and prepare and build excitement for the FRC season," Florence said. "A local competition will be held at Purdue on March 21 and 22 at the France Córdova Recreational Sports Center."

The Anvil is providing space to each team to build their robots and practice before the competition.

“Having done FRC during the four years that I was in high school, I know the value of the program," said Grant Gumina, student lead at the Anvil. "Community outreach and inspiring youth to get involved with technology is a major part of what we do here, so deciding to host the FRC teams was an easy decision."

The robotics showcase was part of the outreach by Purdue FIRST, an organization that aims to inspire students of all ages to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The organization is a group composed of 90 Purdue students who mentor high school students in the surrounding Lafayette and West Lafayette communities.

"Purdue FIRST has hosted this event annually for our four FRC teams that we mentor from the greater Lafayette area," said Kija Davis, public relations director for Purdue FIRST. "We assign Purdue students to each of the teams we sponsor to help them learn important engineering concepts and guide them in designing and building their robots. We make sure the high school students know that the skills they learn are valuable in today's every-changing economy and workforce.

"This year's competition is a lot different than past years. It won't be as defense-based but instead will require a lot of strategy," Davis said. "Teams on alliance will be required to work together much more closely than in the past. It's a new terrain, and they will have to work together to advance to the finals."

About Purdue FIRST

Purdue FIRST Programs (PFP) is a student organization and class that is based at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. It is a group composed of approximately 90 students who work together to support the mission and vision of US FIRST, primarily through mentoring students in the surrounding Lafayette and West Lafayette communities. Currently, Purdue FIRST Programs support 20 elementary and middle school First Lego League teams and 4 FIRST Robotic Competition teams. Purdue FIRST Programs also holds a fall qualifying tournament for FIRST Lego League with a First Tech Challenge competition, a spring competition for First Lego League teams, and the Boilermaker Regional Competition for FIRST Robotics Competition teams.

About the Anvil

The Anvil is a co-working space at Purdue University that serves the unique needs of passionate students, acting as the center of creative culture in West Lafayette. The Anvil focuses on providing local and student-run startups affordable office space as well as access to some of the best engineering talent in the country. The Anvil received support from the City of West Lafayette, and the Purdue Foundry invested in its creation and move. Purdue Foundry provided seed funding to establish the Anvil, and the West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission approved a two-year lease of $200,000 for 10,085 square feet of office space in the new location to support the expanded use for community entrepreneurs. 

Writer: Hillary Henry, Purdue Research Foundation 

Source: Steve Florence, 765-414-5624, 

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Cynthia Sequin, 765-588-3340, 

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