On Saturday, December 7, 2013 I was honored to volunteer at Tech-Na-Palooza; a robotics competition that features teams of 10 or fewer children ranging between the ages of 9 and 14 that compete for first place on a designed obstacle course. The competition took place at Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro, NC. In preparation for this project, the participating teams worked over the course of this previous fall on a research project the focused on the fundamentals of engineering and project management principles. Children in each team were also exposed to teamwork principles and worked in an environment that promoted the understanding of professionalism, robotics and programming.
I spent Saturday morning serving as a field referee in which I oversaw the practice times for competing teams and guided those teams in the rules they would need to abide by for actual competition. It was in this role I was able to intimately see the hard work these groups of children put forth and more importantly the creativity & attention to detail each group gave to their robot. The competition course featured several objectives to which each team’s robot only had 2:30 minutes to complete. The course was purposely designed so that every objective could not be completed within the allotted time but that each task successfully completed would generate points; therefore I got to witness first-hand the high level of strategy used by the participating teams.
In all, my mind was blown by the advanced thought process these kids publicly displayed. What was even more enjoyable was their interest and excitement for technology as there were plenty of laughs and smiles to go around. Competitions such as Tech-Na-Palooza showcase the potential impact of early education in technology and how much sooner than later future generations of engineers will be experienced at an early age to adequately contribute to the growth and success of industrial automation and other technical fields.
Field Service Technician