J'Nai Lawrence, left, and Sam Korman, of East High School in Denver get their robot ready for the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Robotics Competition at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Friday. The event features 48 high school teams from as far away as California and Alberta, Canada, and is themed after the Steampunk stylings of authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. During the competition, co-sponsored by the University of Utah’s College of Engineering, the student-built robots must lob “fuel cells” (in the form of balls) into a mock steam boiler to build enough fuel to operate a simulated steam-powered airship. Meanwhile, robots also must transport giant gears to the airship to engage the ship’s propellers. Teams score points for each action. Finally, teams then must hoist the robots to their hovering airship to complete the round. The Steampunk aesthetic combines science fiction or science fantasy with the design of industrial steam-powered machinery from the 1800s. This year’s regional FIRST contest is the culmination of six weeks in which student teams design and order the parts for the robots, then build, program and test the bots. Teams that win the Utah regional competition and possibly select award winners will move on to the FIRST national championship held April 19-22 in Houston and April 26-29, in St. Louis. The public is invited to attend Saturday's rounds, which run from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. There is no entrance fee.
Bots battle it out in Steampunk-themed competition
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