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Written by Silva Young photos by Richard G. Anderson

Slam Dunk for Science and Engineering

CSE students inspire young people to pursue science and engineering fields through GOFIRST group The “Knight Krawlers,” FIRST Robotics team from Irondale High School manipulate their robot into shooting position from the sidelines. The team is mentored by Bryan Herbst, College of Science and Engineering computer science student and president of the GOFIRST student group.

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t first glance, it could be a rock concert—an arena filled with young people in costumes, loud music, and hundreds of cheering fans. Look closer at center stage, and you see robots of various shapes and sizes hurling basketballs trying to score points. From the sidelines, teams of high school students, dressed in wacky costumes—some as mad scientists—use computers and joysticks to manipulate and operate the robots. It’s all part of the Minnesota Regional FIRST Robotics Competitions held every spring at the University of Minnesota Mariucci and Williams Arenas. The annual event—a sort of “varsity sport for the mind” if you will—was conceived by FIRST Robotics Competition founder Dean Kamen, an inventor, entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for science and technology. Through FIRST (which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”)—now

8 INVENTING TOMORROW fall 2012

a worldwide organization—Kamen is determined to help young people discover the excitement and rewards of science and technology. He believes he can reprioritize society to value inventors the way it values sports heroes. Helping to put that mission into action is the University of Minnesota’s GOFIRST (Group Organization for FIRST) student group, which was founded in December 2009 with six students and four high school robotics teams. Last year, the group’s 30 members mentored 11 Minnesota high school teams.

Dedicated to the fields we love The members of GOFIRST support Kamen’s vision by primarily helping high school teams develop a successful robot for the annual FIRST Robotics Competition. They also volunteer at regional events and conduct outreach activities for students in Minneso-

Inventing Tomorrow, Fall/Winter 2012 (vol 37 no 1)  

University students mentor First robotics team. Faculty are transforming the college classroom. The "Greatest Generation" share tales of WWI...

Inventing Tomorrow, Fall/Winter 2012 (vol 37 no 1)  

University students mentor First robotics team. Faculty are transforming the college classroom. The "Greatest Generation" share tales of WWI...