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Local students build robots for annual robotic competition

Robotics 2017Local students create robots to participate in the annual Palmetto Regional Robotics Competition...

Have you ever built a robot from scratch? High school students in Horry and Georgetown Counties are doing just that right now. In fact, they’re nearing the end of the six-week build period for their robots. In early January, high school teams around the world received a computer and a kit of parts, along with the rules of this year’s playing field as part of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) program. They then have six weeks to create a working robot to accomplish the objectives in this year’s challenge.

Of course, if you want to see the local teams’ robots in action, come to the Palmetto Regional FIRST Robotics Tournament at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, March 1-3. Better yet, volunteer to help these young people accomplish their goals. As FIRST founder Dean Kamen says, “It’s not about the robots.” The students are learning technical and engineering skills, along with teamwork and cooperation – or coopetition, as FIRST puts it – and that’s where the real benefit exists.

By the way, the teams welcome both sponsors and mentors. Sponsors can supply tools, parts, money and even the occasional pizza to feed hungry students. You might even get your logo on a robot! Mentors are needed to help students learn about the engineering and technology involved, as well as the construction process. If you’re a techie who wants to help, here’s your chance. To sign up, visit https://www.firstinspires.org/node/3556 and follow the directions.

The Palmetto Regional is free and open to the public. Everyone’s invited to watch as these bright young people engage each other and their robots. Thursday is a practice day, with the actual competition occurring Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3.