December 17, 2014
“We want to support it: LEGO® is a big part of it,” Lankford said, “And with the close association between TETRIX and LEGO, and the hearty acceptance of TETRIX by a big segment of LEGO users, TETRIX is becoming a big part of it too.”He added that this competition does not have the system purists of competitions such as FIRST® Tech Challenge, and that many system-hybrid robots competed in Sochi. “It’s a little more of an example of engineering with what resources you have rather than a game-based robot.” WRO features 36 member countries with more than 15,000 teams that compete with autonomous robots worldwide. There are the Regular and Open categories, each of which has divisions for elementary, junior high, and senior high students. Plus, there are the Football and College Regular categories. Lankford added that the resourcefulness of the college teams was especially inspiring. “It was refreshing to see the college teams, when faced with a game challenge and a rather well-defined, limited set of resources, flex their creative engineering problem-solving skills,” he said. “You could many see obvious examples of engineering compromises imposed by the limited resources. They truly had to make the most of everything they had access to in the most positive way possible. For some teams it was very successful while for others it was a struggle. “This seems to me to be a very realistic aspect of the typical engineer’s daily challenge.” Lankford said that typical engineers solve problems with finite resources and tight budgets. He went on to explain that teams with larger budgets and access to more resources often are more successful in robotic challenges at this level. The United States is starting to get a foothold in the competition, according to the robot specialist, and he believes this event has benefits beyond the typical competition for students. “The opportunity for kids to experience other cultures in a venue they are comfortable with, in regard to robotics, is a good experience,” Lankford said, adding that seeing other countries using similar technologies is good too. “Anytime you can dispel misconceptions we have about other cultures, that is worth undertaking. Each year, the event moves to a new guest country. The 2015 WRO will be held in Qatar. To learn more about WRO, check out www.TETRIXrobotics.com/competition. Photos courtesy of Hunter Smith.