Students show off robots to the community

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Rocket City turned into Robot City Sunday afternoon, when more than a dozen schools showed off their machines, at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

It's an event NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center was more than happy to sponsor the event. "This is job recruitment for NASA, so yes, we are very much involved because our future depends on strong scientists and engineers," says Susan Currie of NASA.

A majority of the schools at the event, participate in the F.I.R.S.T. Robotics League, which stands for "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology." Teams travel the Southeast, proving the maneuverability of their creation.  "I've gone to North Carolina, and to Louisiana, and then this year we're going to Arkansas," says Emily Horn, a student at Ardmore High School.

Horn is one of the student leaders for Ardmore. She boasts that the program is the oldest robotics team in Alabama. Their creation can clear different barriers and shoot a ball through a hoop.

In their league, it's not head to head competition. “If we scored 3 goals in one, we want to do 4 in the next time. We’re competing against ourselves really," she says.

These robotic events aren't just hobbies, they're gateways to potential careers. Chris Kegley plans to study engineering at Auburn University next year, and credits F.I.R.S.T. as his inspiration. “It lets me work with industry standard equipment and software," he says.

You can tell, beyond the obvious technical skills, students are learning other valuable lessons as well. "It hasn’t been as tested as much as I would like for it to be, but I’m pretty confident in it, I would say, the team done good. I’m very proud of them," says Horn.

 

For the first time ever, Huntsville is hosting the Regional Robotics Tournament at the Von Braun Center, March 24th through 26th.

Nearly 50 teams, including the local teams who showcased their robots Sunday, plan to compete.