Kickoff reveals new twists in robotics competition

2013 FIRST robotics competition kickoff event.

Students from dozens of area high schools piled into ORNL's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in early Janu­ary to get a sense of the obstacles they will be battling over the next six weeks. Hundreds of students, parents, and men­tors attended the kickoff event for the 2013 FIRST robotics competition, a nationwide event in which students design and build complex robots that can tackle the challenges of a specially designed game.

This year's challenge, which involves robots that can throw discs and climb pyramids, was revealed via simulcast during the event. Teams were then able to view a full-scale version of the competition field and hold mock games on it. The field, sponsored by Tech 2020 and assembled by the Hardin Valley Academy FIRST Alumni Club at ORNL's Manu­facturing Demonstration Facility, or MDF, is available for all local teams to use during the build season.

Teams have six weeks to complete their robots before they face off in Knoxville's Smoky Mountains Regional at the end of March, with winning teams advancing to the national FIRST competition in St. Louis.

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