With music thumping and bright lights illuminating the field from overhead, an enthusiastic emcee sporting a bright red Mohawk and a goatee to match whipped the massive crowd into a frenzy. With virtually every seat taken at the 2013 Connecticut Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC), sponsored by United Technologies, it was standing room only as thousands of onlookers—many wearing the brightly colored T-shirts representing their team—clapped and cheered. Larger-than-life mascots—a huge red bulldog and “gearhead gladiators” among them—wove their way through the crowd.
And then, six robots that had been hundreds of hours in the making scooted across the court, controlled remotely by the high school students who had built them from scratch, many under the guidance of UTC mentors. The chrome, rectangular robots hurled Frisbee after Frisbee at the window goals on either end of the field and, half way through the 2 minute and 15 second match, climbed pyramid towers in the center of the court. They were followed by students who physically shot Frisbees at the targets, attempting to add a few extra points to their team’s score as the crowd roared.
Minutes later, the match was over. The winning alliance, made up of three randomly selected teams, was announced to thunderous applause.
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