Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tacoma, Robots and Dean Kamen

What do Dean Kamen, robots and Tacoma have in common? Mark your calendars for March 20th and 21st when 31 high school FIRST teams will converge on the Tacoma Convention Center for the Seattle FIRST Robotics Regional Competition by Microsoft.

Dean Kamen, is an inventor and scientist with a numerous list of awards for his creation of devices such as the iBOT Mobility System, the AutoSyringe and the one he is most often linked with, the Segwey Human Transporter. Currently he is working on a project involving Stirling engine designs to be utilized in developing countries. The idea is to create a machine that would generate power while serving as a water purification system.

According to Wikipedia,
In 1989, Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), for high school students. In 2005, FIRST held over 30 regional competitions and one international competition. In 2007, 37 competitions were held in places across the world such as Israel, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S.A.. Kamen remains the driving force behind the organization, providing over 1,000 high schools with the tools needed to learn valuable engineering skills.

Microsoft is sponsoring the competition to be held here in Tacoma. Among the 31 teams competing are three Tacoma area teams representing Bellarmine Preparatory, Wilson and The School of the Arts high schools. Official team names below.

Fikret Yuksel Foundation/Parents of Bellarmine Robotics & Bellarmine Prep Tacoma

Murdock Foundation / Dimmer Foundation & Wilson High School

Tacoma School of the Arts High School

Other schools that will be representing are coming from Seattle, Vancouver BC, Anchorage, Bend and many other Northwest cities.

Debra Mumm-Hill, FIRST Pacific NW Regional Director and Kevin Rolls, who also works with the FIRST Lego League came by and visited with me about the event. It will attract 500 plus high schoolers to the downtown, and multiply that for the adults who come to see and work at the competition.

You dorkbots out there, they are going to need volunteers for this event so stay tuned for more information as it comes out.

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