Robo-Mottos

FIRST Robotics Fans
FIRST Robotics Participants --- almost as creative as the ones I saw in person

While witnessing my first FIRST Robotics competition this spring, I was initially impressed by the enthusiasm. It’s a high school sport! Fans rock a basketball court while nerdish guys in imaginative costumes lead cheers and dance with abandon.

FIRST Robotics competition
FIRST Robotics competition

Next I was impressed by the engineering talent as giant robotic crafts negotiated competitive and cooperative tasks.

Then best of all–the part near and dear to a writer, and found only in the printed program–the mottos. They ranged from boring to inspirational to hilarious. Here are my favorites:

  • “Drive it Like You Stole It!”  (Cobra Commanders, Cactus High School, AZ)
  • “Pass the duct tape!” (Mecha-Knights, Casa Grande Union High School, AZ)
  • “There is No Spoon” (Falcon Robotics, Carl Hayden High School, AZ)
  • “Putting Others FIRST” (Beach Bots, Hope Chapel Academy High School, CA)
  • “Don’t Stop Believing” (The Phoenix, Queen Creek High School & District, AZ)
  • “Keep it simple” (Team Paradise, Paradise Valley High School, AZ)
  • “Si Se Puede” (Si Se Puede, Chandler High School, AZ)
  • “Make it work!” (Bearded Dragons, Verrado High School, AZ)
  • “Clamp it down” (Hamilton Microbots, Hamilton High School & Space Grant Robotics–ASU, AZ)
  • “GO NUTS!” (CocoNuts, Coconino High School & Flagstaff Unified #1, AZ)
  • “Dr. Gear–Sir, We Salute You” (Critical Mass, East Valley Institute of Technology, AZ)
  • “We put the ‘eek’ in Geek” (N.E.R.D.S Nifty Engineering Robotics Design Squad, Buena High School, AZ)
  • “Pride Determination Respect” (Bionic Bulldogs, Kingman High School, Kingman Academy of Learning High School, and KUSD #20, AZ)
  • “Hey this might work!” (BioHazards, Bioscience High School, AZ)
  • “Fueled by HotPockets” (Team Thundercats, Deming High School, NM)
  • “The 10th time is the charm” (Team CAUTION, AZ Community Robotics, AZ)
  • “It’s only temporary unless it works” (Sentinels, Seton Catholic, AZ)

And there was even a meta-motto:

  • “We make Robots, not Mottos” (Boxer Bots, Vail School District, AZ)

No motto was listed for 15 of the 46 teams; 22 teams named their robots: Beach Bot, Chipper, Heather, Score, Caprica, Neo, Velcro Radical 25, Dionysus, Pocket Protector, Robobuff, Aztecbot, Anthrax, Scorpio, Marmaduke, Thundertank, Goal-E, Beth, Panchobot, I, and Viper Prime. There was even a TBD–to be determined.

For those who joined the linguistic game, these mottos and names (of teams and robots) suggest the whole adventure: the thrills and heartbreaks, the persistence and resilience, the team spirit and mutual respect. Even the organization gets into word coinage, trademarking “FIRST” (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), “Gracious Professionalism” and “Coopertition.”

A study at Brandeis University concluded that FIRST Robotics participants are “roughly ten times as likely to hold an apprenticeship, internship, or co-op job in their freshman year. . . significantly more likely to expect to achieve a post graduate degree. . . more than twice as likely to expect to pursue a career in science and technology . . . more than twice as likely to volunteer in their communities.”

But win or lose on the robotics court, and pursuing whatever careers they choose, these young engineers obviously experience collaboration, sportsmanship, revision, and celebration. Sounds like a great way to build our next world leaders.

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011, All Rights Reserved.

Photos from USFIRST.org

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