The robots are coming! The robots are coming! Each spring, for one long weekend the area in and around Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center resembles a scene from either a science fiction novel or a mad scientist’s workshop. High school teams from Virginia, North Carolina, D.C., Maryland and West Virginia converge for a “Battlebot-style” smack-down that centers around a playing field and a unique engineering challenge.
VCU has hosted the regional FIRST Robotics Competition for the past 10 years, an event that teams professionals and young people to solve an engineering design problem in an intense and competitive way. These high-tech spectator sporting events are the result of lots of brainstorming, teamwork, mentoring and crazy deadlines — not to mention the Mardis-Gras-styled event complete with crazy costumes, mascots, beads alongside pocket protectors and propeller hats.
Students, faculty and staff volunteers from VCU School of Engineering lend a hand with the event, and spectators from VCU and beyond show up to cheer on their favorite bot.