A team of high school students sponsored by Smart Vision Lights recently took home the Industrial Design Award at the 2018 FIRST® Championship, a world robotics competition held in Detroit. The award, which is underwritten by GM, was one of three presented at the championship, where 400 teams competed.
The award-winning team, the Muskegon Area Robotics Students (M.A.R.S.) Rovers, had six weeks to design, build, and program a robot to play a game according to parameters set by the FIRST® program. The MARS team played others around Michigan to qualify for the world competition, which is one of two held every year at the end of April. (The other world competition is in Houston.)
“It all started when several students spent the off-season developing a new drive system as well as a vision system,” wrote Michael Gerstweiler, program director for the M.A.R.S. Rovers. “Other students worked on an electronic scouting system to allow the team to make better decisions.”
The new vision system, a high-speed image processing camera that feeds targeting information to the robot’s brain, had already won several awards on the regional level before the team advanced to the world competition.
Smart Vision Lights supplied the M.A.R.S. Rovers with materials, equipment, and funding for several years. It also has provided internship and summer job opportunities for several students. The support, said Gerstweiler, “has allowed our students to learn skills that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn.”
Nonprofit FIRST® runs programs to encourage young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math. More than 40,000 spectators attended the world championship in Detroit, which included 15,000 students from teams representing many countries.