February 17, 2022
Members of the Epstein Community Foundation volunteered their time last weekend at FIRST Robotics’ Chicago League Tournament. This specific event, FIRST Tech Challenge, is for students enrolled in 7th through 12th grade with an interest in STEM. Students were challenged to design, build, program, and operate robots and compete in a head-to-head challenge in an alliance format. Robots are built from a reusable platform, powered by Android technology, and can be coded using a variety of levels of Java-based programming.
Our team assisted as judge volunteers tasked with interviewing the 16 teams from schools around Chicagoland, and deciding 9 awards. Awards ranged from the most prestigious “Inspire Award”, which is given to the team that best embodies the FIRST Tech Challenge, to the “Rookie Award”, given to a team just starting out but on the right track. The term “gracious professionalism”, which FIRST defines as “doing your best work while treating others with respect and kindness”, was introduced and on display as one high school formed an alliance with another to build off each team’s robot’s strengths and weaknesses, going head to head with another alliance in the arena. Judging wrapped early enough to watch the finals between two alliances that determined who would move on to the state competition in Elgin, IL. It was a great introduction into the world of robotics and rewarding to see the student’s talent in robotics and comradery.