Robot competition is coming to Boston University
Co-founders of Apple Inc. and iRobot Corp. will be among the judges of a student robotics competition called the Boston FIRST, which is scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday at Boston University's Agganis Arena.
Steve Wozniak of Apple fame and Colin Angle of iRobot, the Burlington company that makes reconnaissance robots for the battlefield and vacuuming Roomba robots for the home, will join Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe, now a general partner in the Waltham office of the venture capital firm Polaris Venture Partners, on the panel of judges for this year's event.
The letters that make up FIRST stand for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology," a competition founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, creator of the Segway personal transporter.
About 40 regional FIRST competitions are now held around the country, and this is the third year for the Boston FIRST, a spokesman for the Boston competition said.
More than 50 teams from high schools in the region are participating in this year's Boston FIRST.
Their challenge? Design a robot that can race around a large, oval track while moving gigantic balls above and below obstacles along a designated path.
Teams have about six weeks to design such a robot and can spend no more than $3,500 on their project, the Boston FIRST spokesman said.
Typically, teams have corporate sponsors; for example, the Tewksbury Titans, a team from Tewksbury Memorial High School, is sponsored by Waltham defense contractor Raytheon Co., the Boston FIRST spokesman said.
The judges recognize teams for robot design excellence and competitive play, among other categories, but many students can also qualify for college scholarship and win intern opportunities from some of the corporate sponsors.
According to Boston FIRST, there is a rock 'n' roll quality to the event, and to gin up extra energy, the theatrical troupe Blue Man Group has been booked to put on a brief Saturday show.
The event is free and open to the public.
Last year, more than 3,000 people attended the Saturday session of the competition, the Boston FIRST spokesman said.
(By Chris Reidy, Globe staff)