SALT LAKE CITY -- Last year high school teams like those from West, Weber and Woods Cross high schools traveled to a competition in Las Vegas. They competed in a lunar challenge for First Robotics.
Elementary school students as young as those in third grade compete in First Lego League. A recent competition was an environmental obstacle where robots the kids built raced against the others.
"It's very fast-paced and exciting. The kids learn how to build machines and how to work with them; they get to see how people in the field do it," says Mark Minor, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the U of U. He helps with these robotic teams and competitions.
"It really breaks down a lot of barriers that kids might have about science and technology. And it teaches them valuable skills that as soon as they graduate from high school they could go out and help work in a company or a factory building machines that can help build products," he said.
Minor says Hill Air Force Base helps with some of the costs, but he would love to see other companies jump in. They're working on a Utah competition and on getting more high schools to have robotics classes. Juan Diego High School has one right now.
They are planning a kickoff event in late September at the U of U and teams are already forming. Minor says anyone interested can e-mail him at email@example.com, or go to www.usfirst.org.