Archive for the ‘Robot Fundraising’ Category

Microchip Announces Sponsorship of 2013/2014 VEX® Robotics Competitions

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Microchip Offers Grants for 20 Rookie Arizona VEX Teams and Loans Fully-Equipped Gaming Trailer for Teams to Hold Local Tournaments

Microchip Technology Inc., a leading provider of microcontroller, mixed-signal, analog and Flash-IP solutions announced support of several VEX® robotics tournaments in Arizona, providing opportunities for teams who were able to qualify for the 2013 VEX Robotics World Championship, which was held April 18-20, 2013 in Anaheim, CA presented by the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation.  The challenge, VEX “Sack Attack” pitted team alliances against each other to score points by dumping as many sacks into their alliance troughs during a two minute match.  As a result of Microchip sponsorship grants, 20 rookie teams were created in Arizona in 2013 and two new playing fields were donated, allowing more events and more teams to participate.  More than 700 teams from 24 countries and 15,000 students competed in Anaheim and teams from Cave Creek, Arizona, took home awards in the “Create” and the Autodesk Design Award categories.

Steve Sanghi, President and CEO of Microchip Technology Inc., was inducted into the STEM Heroes Hall of Fame for his work in promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math throughout the years with his involvement with various robotics programs, including VEX, FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and the Microchip Academic Program.  “I am honored to be included among this esteemed group of individuals who recognize that it is our responsibility to prepare the next generation of engineers, innovators and scientists so they can define new technology to create a stronger economy through education,” said Steve Sanghi, upon receiving this accolade.  VEX Robotics and the REC Foundation also announced a new program at the World Championship event, VEX IQ and the VEX IQ Challenge, will bring robotics to the elementary school level.  This makes VEX available to students in elementary school through college.

Microchip, in conjunction with the REC Foundation is expanding its support for 2013-2014 with an additional 20 grants that will be offered to rookie VEX teams in Arizona.  Additionally, Microchip will equip a portable VEX playing field system housed in a trailer that can be loaned out to Arizona teams who want to host scrimmages or qualifying tournaments in Arizona.  Two playing fields, electronics, and all gaming pieces will be included, allowing teams to put on their own VEX Robotics Competition events.  For more information or to get involved, contact Carol Popovich at carol.popovich@microchip.com or (480) 792-7938.

Resources
High-res VEX logo Available Through Flickr or Editorial Contact (feel free to publish): http://www.microchip.com/get/RCTC

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About Microchip Technology
Microchip Technology Inc. (NASDAQ:  MCHP) is a leading provider of microcontroller, mixed-signal analog and Flash-IP solutions, providing low-risk product development, lower total system cost and faster time to market for thousands of diverse customer applications worldwide.  Headquartered in Chandler, Arizona, Microchip offers outstanding technical support along with dependable delivery and quality.  For more information, visit the Microchip website at http://www.microchip.com/get/TNJ2.

About the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
The REC Foundation seeks to increase student interest and involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by engaging students in hands-on, sustainable and affordable curriculum-based robotics engineering programs across the U.S. and internationally. The REC Foundation develops partnerships with K-12 education, higher education, government, industry and the nonprofit community to achieve this work.  For more information on REC Foundation, visit http://www.microchip.com/get/VRQE or http://www.microchip.com/get/KT3V.

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Grant program empowers STEM education for Georgia universities

Thursday, July 21st, 2011
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According to the Coosa Valley News, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal recently announced that Columbus State University, West Georgia University and Southern Polytechnic State University will receive grants to replicate the successful UTeach program held at the University of Texas in Austin. The initiative is designed to enhance teacher training on the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math.

The grant money, which will total $1.4 million, will be part of Georgia’s Race to the Top education initiative intended to produce STEM-focused teachers.

"This program will address the critical shortage Georgia faces in producing STEM teachers," said Governor Deal in a recent address. "The most important thing we can do for students and Georgia's future is to ensure that we have a quality teacher with strong content knowledge and a passion for helping students learn in every classroom. UTeach has seen great success elsewhere, and I look forward to seeing it implemented in our state."

The STEM grants may even support robotics education. Experts say involvement in robotics clubs and teams often compels students to follow STEM-centered, career paths in highly technical fields.

Innovative marketing leads to fast-paced robotics competition

Thursday, July 21st, 2011
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Energy drink maker, Red Bull, is well known for its quirky advertising and extreme forms of public retaliations, which include the Flugtag events and an air race competition. Emphasizing both creativity and speed, the company recently sponsored a contest in Brooklyn, New York, which featured 64 contestants working to create robotics inventions, reported Biz Bash.

However, the competition was not the carefully-planned and gradual process robotics enthusiasts have come to expect. According to the media outlet, groups of contestants were given just 72 hours to design, build and test their contraption. Needless to say, many contestants may have been drinking Red Bull energy drinks during the mad dash to the finish line.

"We all wanted it to be a special creative environment, where, for a period, almost anything was possible. It was really kind of an alternate universe for 72 hours, where the unimaginable could actually be achieved," said Red Bull Creation's producer, Jason Naumoff.

The fast pace is unique on the robotics competition circuit. According to AZORobotics, a team from the University of Central Florida designed and built its system over the course of an entire year, which it recently used to attain second place in a competition.

New robotics device mimics marine life

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
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According to the Discovery Channel, a team of European researchers recently programmed and built a robotic arm designed to look and feel like one of the eight tentacles of an octopus.

The real challenge is creating a robotics system that looks and feels like the soft tissue of octopus limbs, while programming it to become rigid enough to grab objects when commanded, stated the news source.

However, the research team maintained that their device will be more than just a cool piece of technology, as they are ultimately intending to put it to use in some pretty hairy situations.

"The applications we envisage are all the applications where you send the robot into very small spaces for exploration tasks but also for rescue under debris," Cecilia Laschi, an associate professor and robotics researcher, told the media organization. "A soft, octopus-like robot could be controlled remotely to retrieve people in a difficult underwater environment."

Robotics systems are no stranger to marine environments, as in many cases they are sent into the water in the place of air-breathing humans. According to USA Today, two Seaglider robots were recently used to explore the frigid waters of the Ross Sea off Antarctica.

Grant program empowers STEM education for Georgia universities

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
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According to the Coosa Valley News, Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal, recently announced that Columbus State University, West Georgia University and Southern Polytechnic State University will receive grants to replicate the successful UTeach program. The initiative is designed to enhance teacher training on the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math.

The grant money, which will total $1.4 million, will be part of Georgia’s Race to the Top education initiative intended to produce STEM-focused teachers.

"This program will address the critical shortage Georgia faces in producing STEM teachers," said Governor Deal in a recent address. "The most important thing we can do for students and Georgia's future is to ensure that we have a quality teacher with strong content knowledge and a passion for helping students learn in every classroom. UTeach has seen great success elsewhere, and I look forward to seeing it implemented in our state."

The STEM grants may even support robotics education. Experts say involvement in robotics clubs and teams often compels students to follow STEM-centered, career paths in highly technical fields.

NASA-sponsored summer camps hosted by Philadelphia high school

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
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According to Montgomery Media, the Roxborough High School in Philadelphia will host NASA's Summer of Innovation youth science camp in August. The program is sponsored by President Barack Obama's federal Educate to Innovate initiative and is designed to promote student learning in science, technology, engineering and math.

The funding for the summer camp is provided for by a Math and Science in Pennsylvania Grant, which the school received some time ago, reported the news source. Teachers with the high school believe that the Summer of Innovation camp will not only impart STEM wisdom to students, it will also bring credit to institution.

"As Roxborough High School continues to re-establish itself as a highly competitive academic and college preparatory school, it is important for us to offer unique learning opportunities for our students and our community," Stephen Brandt, principal of Roxborough High School, told the media organization.

An integral part of STEM education, robotics may be looked at during the summer camp to be held in early August, stated Montgomery Media. Recently, a summer camp in Wausau, Wisconsin, taught students basic robot programming and building skills, according to the Wausau Daily Herald.

Designers intend to make factory robots safer

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
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In the past, robots working in the manufacturing industry were often bulky, needed precise setup and could potentially be responsible for worker accidents. However, with President Barack Obama's $500 million federal investment in new technologies production warehouses, robotics researchers are currently looking for ways to make these devices safer to work with, stated a report by Technology Review.

"In manufacturing facilities, robots are basically in cages like wild animals … so you can't get in there and get hurt," David Bourne, a professor at Carnegie Mellon, told the news source. "Having the robot and person work side-by-side is really scary to a lot of people," he says. "If it swings around and hits you, it could take your head off."

The key to robotics safety may be improved area sensing capabilities and more precise motion control, reported the media outlet. One company uses a new technology, called elastic actuators, to better control the gripping powers and movement of its robotics systems.

"The use of series elastic actuators changes the whole approach to manufacturing robots. [It] makes the robot able to safely interact with people," said Rodney Brooks, the co-founder of iRobot, according to Technology Review.

Manufacturing and factory-line processes can be greatly aided by autonomous robotics systems. According to American Machinist, Ford deploys robots in some of its larger factories to manufacture better fitting car pieces.

Domestic robots perform mundane tasks

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
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For many, the ultimate goal of owning a robot in the household would be to program it to complete chores its human owners would rather skip over. At the recent RoboCup 2011 contest in Istanbul, Turkey, housekeeping robotics systems were pitted against one another to see which device would make the best mechanized butler, reported the BBC News.

The majority of the robots entered in the contest utilized area-scanning technology, which was used to identify common household items. According to the news source, the devices were tasked with simple chores, such as mixing up a cocktail, in which they relied on area mapping and internal processing systems to execute task given to them.

While many of the devices were able to perform mundane tasks, contest entrants claimed the simplicity of these actions somewhat underscores the degree of complexity it took to program the robots.

"There are so many things we take for granted as humans," Nathan Kirchner, the head of the University of Sydney's RobotAssist team, told the media outlet. "But when you get a machine to do it, there's nothing for free. It has to learn every action."

The housekeeping robotics competition was not even the main draw at the recent RoboCup event. For most entrants, their devices were built and programmed to compete in a soccer match with other international teams, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Singing robot makes beautiful music, kind of

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
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With robots mimicking human speech becoming more common, it was only a matter of time before a device was made to sing. According to a report from CNET, a robotics system developed by Hideyuki Sawada of Japan's Kagawa University recently sang for audiences at the RoboTech 2011 expo in Tokyo.

Resembling a human mouth, the device is able to harmonize and mimic the vocal stylings of humans, reported the news source. Additionally, the robot comes complete with a replica tongue that moves according to the note it is programmed to produce, as well as an air compressor that acts as human lungs. When all of these competing systems work together in harmony, the result is a symphony of sorts.

At the RoboTech conference, the device sang the song "Kagome Kagome," a popular children's tune in Japan. While the technology behind the device is no doubt impressive, the robot still has a long way to go before it faces off against humans in concert halls, stated the media outlet.

According to TechLand, the robots "lips" can even move as air is compressed through the device, which effects the tonality of the notes it produces.

Federal grant delivers funds to STEM-centered, summer program

Monday, July 18th, 2011
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The job training and education program, HoustonWorks USA, was recently awarded a federal grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, reported Ultimate East End. The funding, which totals $1.6 million, will be used to promote education in technical subjects for the city of Houston, Texas.

HoustonWorks USA's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Institute, which is intended to keep schools up-to-speed on STEM education, will use the grant money to fund teacher training and student learning initiatives, stated the news source. Additionally, the educational organization's summer program will be empowered by the influx of capital.

Program officials believe their efforts go beyond just student education, as many feel that the initiative may provide the technical workforce of tomorrow.

"Through the STEM Institute and its array of comprehensive programs, HoustonWorks USA is building a highly competitive future workforce," said Larry Green, CEO of the program, in a recent press release.

Many workers in the robotics field owe their expertise to STEM education. According to the Atlantic Monthly, many students participating in these initiatives may go on to technical careers.