The FIRST Robotics Football Challenge, presented by NRG Energy, assembled some of the finest high school “robotics athletes” from the Delaware Valley and Central Pennsylvania under one roof last night. Four high school teams from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including one from Camden, brought their robots to toss and kick footballs around the Philadelphia Eagles’ indoor practice arena, the Nova Care Complex.
Supervising the display were none other than Philadelphia Eagles players Malcolm Jenkins and Jon Dorenbos, who got a taste of how science can deliver a mean toss:
— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) December 7, 2016
The four teams had been preparing for the competition for a month alongside FIRST mentors. Teams built their contraptions to endure agility, precision and strength tests.
York, Pa.-based team TechFire 225 and their robot Scrofa Flaugin landed the top prize in the competition after surpassing each of the tasks. The other three teams also took home a $2,000 check to continue their robotics research.
Here’s Scrofa Flaugin in action:
— Technical.ly Philly (@TechnicallyPHL) December 7, 2016
Right before the challenge, Dorenbos and Jenkins held a Q&A session with the high schoolers where they praised the competition as a way to cultivate persistence and develop character.
— Technical.ly Philly (@TechnicallyPHL) December 6, 2016
Jenkins told the students that, had he chosen to pursue a career in STEM, it would be in the sport sciences fields (but that he wasn’t that good at math in high school).
NRG Energy CEO Mauricio Gutiérrez was onsite checking out the robots as they blasted footballs to the stadium walls. Gutiérrez said the challenge was a good opportunity to foster tech skills among kids in order to help develop talent that could work for the company in the future.
“We need engineers,” Gutierrez said.