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Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Build a Robot Army!

So, I was recently at an event where some students from Chicago's Northside College Prep High School showed up to demo some of their robots and to talk about their upcoming participation in the upcoming FIRST Robotics Challenge. For example, here's one of their past robots:

As a kid, I did more than my fair share of things related to computer programming, but I definitely never built a robot. Now that I'm an adult though (sic), I can definitely see the advantages that a robot might offer. For instance, programming it to chase my 3 and 4 year boys around, keeping a menacing eye on them when in "time out" (think Cylons), and cleaning up after their messes. However, where would I even start with a diabolical project like that? I don't know anything about robots.

As I've learned, sending a team to a robotics competition is no cheap affair. This is especially so if you're at a public school and you want to equip your basic entry-level robot with all sorts of cool accessories such as laser beams, plasma torches, x-ray vision and stuff. And don't even talk about travel. No, seriously, these students are probably all going to be huddled in a van using the robot's plasma torch just to stay warm. On a serious note, this is actually the very first year that Northside has participated in the FIRST Robotics Challenge. As a rookie team, time and resources aren't always easy to come by.

Sensing an opportunity, I've decided to help solve both problems by sponsoring a Build a Robot Army event on February 9, 2013 at my office in Chicago. The Northside students are going to stop by with some robot kits and teach everyone the basics of building a robot. It's limited to only 8 people. As such, it will be hands-on and in-depth. All of the proceeds will go to help the Northside team. In short, it will be an awesomely fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

More information is available at http://robotarmy.eventbrite.com. I hope to see you there! -Dave

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