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Watch for Steampunk Robots at Boise State March 31

By: Brady W Moore   Published 8:03 am / March 22, 2017

Robots built by 35 high school teams will descend on Taco Bell Arena March 31-April 1 for the second annual Idaho FIRST Robotics Competition.

Photo from 2016 FIRST Robotics Competition.

Students competing in the 2016 competition.

Teams from across the Gem State and as far away as Canada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and California will come together for the free event co-sponsored by Boise State University, Idaho STEM Action Center and Tesoro.

The event is themed after the steampunk stylings of authors like Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. Titled “FIRST  Steamworks,” the competition will have a retro-tech feel in which students build robots that must lob “fuel cells” (in the form of balls) into a mock steam boiler to build enough fuel to operate a simulated steam-powered airship. Meanwhile, robots also must transport giant gears to the airship to engage the ship’s propellers. Teams score points for each action. Finally, teams then must hoist the robots to their hovering airship to complete the round.

Photo from the 2016 FIRST Robotics Competition. “FIRST allows students the opportunity to engage in real science by designing, building and testing their own imagined creation of complex machinery,” said Amy Moll, dean of the College of Engineering. “Students benefit by developing the advanced skills needed for tomorrow’s workplace. Not to mention, it’s really a lot of fun.”

Teams that win the Idaho regional competition, and possibly select award winners, will move on to the FIRST national championship held April 19-22 in Houston and April 26-29 in St. Louis. In all, more than 85,000 high school students from around the world will participate in this year’s competition, now in its 26th year.