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First Robots

March 23, 2006

Posted by Sumit Agarwal, Maryam Kamvar, & Michael Stoppelman

With 4 seconds left to go, the Team Cheesy Poofs robot shouldered its way onto the 3 foot platform, pivoted 90 degrees into scoring position, and rapid-fired 10 balls directly into the 3-point goal. They won the match, and the Google Silicon Valley Regional Championship for US FIRST, a non-profit "For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology" (FIRST).

Google jumped at the opportunity to sponsor this organization after Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway and the first implantable dialysis pump) spoke to a packed Google audience about his lifelong crusade to improve education in the United States. Dean founded US FIRST over 15 years ago, and from humble beginnings in the Northeast, FIRST has now grown to involve over 60,000 high school students all over the United States and the world.

FIRST was a natural partner for Google, given their focus on science and technology, their passion for changing the world for the better, and their single-minded focus on making education fun for students. When the final buzzer rang at the recent championship match the students jumped and hugged like they'd won the Superbowl. And in a way, they had. This event has all the excitement, tension, and drama of a major sporting event and then some.

Beyond sponsoring the FIRST tournament, Google also funded half a dozen teams in the Bay Area, ranging from East Palo Alto High School to Notre Dame High School. Several dozen employees also served as team mentors, meeting the students once a week to help construct the competition robots over the frantic six-week design/build cycle. Others volunteered at the Regional event as judges, coordinators, and referees, and plenty of Googlers were on hand to spectate the exciting matches.

We congratulate all the teams at the regional tournament for their hard work and innovation. We wish the six bay-area teams who qualified for the finals in Atlanta the best of luck . Bring home the gold!