Fri, Feb 01, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Event provides practice for robotics competition

FIRST THING’S FIRST:If at least 13 domestic and 15 foreign teams participate, Taiwan could host its own regional FIRST competition next year, an official said

By Ou Su-mei and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A robot programmed by contestants in a preliminary event for the FIRST Robotics Competition throws balls during a game at the National Experimental High School in Central Taiwan Science Park in Taichung on Wednesday.

Photo: Ou Su-mei, Taipei Times

The Central Taiwan Science Park’s National Experimental High School on Wednesday hosted the Taiwan preliminary for the annual FIRST Robotics Competition.

The two-day event in Taichung was attended by 17 teams of students from various high schools, including Taipei First Girls’ High School and Taipei Municipal Chenggong High School.

The international robotics competition for high-school students was founded by New Hampshire-based non-profit charity FIRST — which stands for “for inspiration and recognition of science and technology.”

FIRST’s goal is to “inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators,” the organization’s Web site says.

More than 3,100 teams worldwide participate in the competition each year, organizers said.

The Central Taiwan Science Park Bureau in 2017 began hosting a preliminary competition to give Taiwanese students an opportunity to practice, bureau director-general Chen Ming-huang (陳銘煌) said, adding that the preliminaries are like “mock exams.”

The number of Taiwanese teams participating in FIRST events overseas has increased from three in 2017 to eight last year and 20 this year, he said.

Hopefully, Taiwan could host its own regional event next year — which would require the participation of at least 13 domestic teams and 15 foreign teams — as it would reduce the pressure on participants to raise money for travel, he said.

The theme of this year’s competition, which was announced on Jan. 5, is “Destination: Deep Space.”

Teams must build robots that can perform a variety of tasks, including gathering “as many cargo pods as possible” within two minutes and 30 seconds, FIRST’s Web site says.

The development of robotics is a global trend and Taiwan would lose to other nations if it does not catch up, school principal Lin Kun-tsan (林坤燦) said.

With the help of the bureau, more than 40 schools are part of a strategic alliance aimed at cultivating talent in the “STEM” fields: science, technology, engineering and math, he said.

The schools in the alliance offer interdisciplinary training, he said, adding that these efforts would have a significant effect on the future.

Lin Chi-jui (林啟瑞), captain of a team from National Nanke International Experimental High School in Tainan, said that the competition requires students to apply what they have learned in school, such as the principles of levers they were taught in physics class.

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