Last updated August 15, 2017 at 4:19 pm
Five boys from South Australia are representing the entire continent of Oceania in a global robotics competition. One of the boys writes about day one of the competition which is held in Washington DC.
When we were first invited to represent the continent of Oceania in the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge, we were excited and humbled by the responsibility. As high school engineering students, the opportunity to travel to the United States and the enormity of the event was both daunting and awe inspiring. With 163 nations competing, it is a true robotic Olympics.
One of the key aspects of the FIRST Global Challenge is hard to explain; we compete like crazy, but also help each other to get better. Known as ‘co-opertition’, we share our designs, support and mentor other teams and collaborate with team around the world. Leading up to the competition, we spent hours on the phone, on Skype and in Google Hangouts mentoring Team Vanuatu, Team Kazakhstan and many others. We also produced videos to explain components and programming, and shared videos of our robot. We were excited to hear from Team France that they had copied our design for a lifting mechanism and to see our harvester design on a huge number of robots.
Finally, the big day arrived. Our robot was safely packed and protected by a layer of the plush koalas we had to give away. We were not looking forward to 36 hours of travel to reach our destination but we made it and our hotel was fantastic. The best part was walking into the lobby and meeting Team Poland, though their robot was intimidating. The next day, after a short sleep in, a swim and a workout in the gym, it was back to the airport to meet the wonderful staff of FIRST Global and a bus ride into Washington. We gained a sense of the enormity of the event, meeting Team Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Singapore, Peru and many others. Our luggage alone filled two yellow school buses!
There was more to come. We walked into a veritable United Nations at our dorms. Teams speaking 74 different languages milled around before settling into their rooms. We are sharing our rooms with members of Team Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal and the Netherlands. We are making global connections, and it is fascinating that we all have at least one language in common… Java!
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