Have you ever heard of RoboCon? I’m not talking about that cute red robot from the cartoon, but “RoboCon = Robot Contest”. I don’t know the RoboCon situation in other countries but here in Japan it’s quite popular. There are 2 famous RoboCon that are held annually in Japan: RoboCon for technical college students and RoboCon for university students. Both contests have been aired on national TV and I’ve been casually following the program for years.
Photo: Alex Gonzalez
Let me quickly explain what this is for people who never heard of it. RoboCon involves, obviously, robots. Contest’s theme and rules are different every year, and students need to create robots to complete required tasks within the time limit while keeping rules. If we say University RoboCon is a competition of technical knowledge, College RoboCon is more like a competition of ideas, they need to come up with the ideas to make up for the lack of skills and budget.
Then, there is an Asia-Pacific RoboCon called ABU RoboCon. It’s also held annually and the winner of University RoboCon can join as a representative of the country.
For rules and more details, probably you can have better understanding from this rule video:
2011 ABU RoboCon Rules
This contest has 3 categories with same rules: Elementary school students or younger (with parents), Junior high school students (Grade 7-9), General (people who don’t fit in other 2 categories). Though it’s open for everyone, main attendees seem to be junior high students. The venue was full of junior high school boys holding their precious machines! Some look really cool, some are… not sure if it can even stand on the floor but they magically do :D
In this contest, there were several tasks to be done by manually-operated robot within 2 minutes. But as far as I’ve seen in the junior high categories, it’s really rare to see student team that can accomplish all tasks. It normally stopped or struggled to finish one task, but they seemed really happy to show what they create and see what others create. I saw them taking notes for improvement, exchanging ideas and having meeting to review what the problem was. It was like an introduction course for RoboCon world… or course for future engineers.
I myself is situated at completely opposite of engineer world (table lamp I made at school blew when I plugged in) but it was really fun to watch their original ideas and efforts happening in front of me…
I know I know... but let me finish this post with this song…