It’s a Robotics Summer in Rockford

Many exciting events are taking place in Rockford this summer in the growing field of Robotics!

This past Monday, Mayor Larry Morrissey proclaimed July as the official Summer of Robotics in the city of Rockford with a formal Proclamation at the City Council meeting. This is due to efforts Rockford Robotics has put forth to spread robotics throughout the city of Rockford including the kick-off of the first official Rockford Maker’s Network events next week!

Rockford Robotics, who does their building and testing of their robots at the EIGERlab, were notified that they were awarded a $20,000 grant from the Community Foundation for the Rockford Public Schools Robotics Roll-Out. This will help fund Junior FIRST Lego League (Jr. FLL), FIRST Lego League (FLL) and FIRST Technical Challenge (FTC) teams at several RPS schools during the 2014-15 school year. In addition RPS Robotics Roll-Out received just over $5,000 from Alignment Rockford for use specifically for FTC registration and KOP. Once the funds are received equipment will be purchased and teams will be on their way!
The estimated budget for registration, stipends and kit of parts for the schools interested in hosting a FIRST team k-12 during the 2014-15 school year was $48,000. RPS will be again contributing $20,000. So the RPS Robotics Roll-Out Fund has almost reached our projected 2014-15 goal. No other equipment beyond KOP was budgeted for any of the teams so FTC teams will still need assistance for all the other equipment (computer, hand tools, building materials, etc) and FLL and Jr FLL will need assistance procuring additional resources. In addition technical support/mentoring might be a comforting resource as schools dip their toes into FIRST for the first time!

The Second Annual Rock River Offseason Competition (R2OC) is rapidly approaching. On July 26th, 30 teams from 5 states will compete at the Rock Valley College PET building. Grants from the Community Foundation and sponsorships from a host of local organizations, the competition will have 5 TV screens and 1 large projection screen available for the competition. Last year’s inaugural event drew almost 1,000 attendees. It’s free and open to the public.
The competition for this event is called “AERIAL ASSIST” and is played by two competing Alliances of three robots each on a flat 25 x 54 foot field, straddled by a truss suspended just over five feet above the floor. The objective is to score as many balls in goals as possible during a two (2)-minute and 30 second match. The more Alliances score their ball in their goals and the more they work together to do it, the more points their Alliance receives.
We will again have John Petrick, FIRST, as the announcer and last year he said: “I have emceed many regional robotics competitions through the Midwest, and this one ranks up there with the best, the organization, facilities, fans.”
At the recent R2OC board meeting, Dan Green from FIRST District Illinois, updated the group by stating that Illinois is moving towards a District Model. Goal is to put it in place in 2016. Three likely regional competitions locations are Chicago, Peoria, and Rockford. They hope to also have another southern or central Illinois location. Regional competitions will be limited to 40 teams. Venues will likely be high school gyms or community colleges, so they should be less expensive to run. Each Illinois team will be able to participate in two competitions (at the price they would currently pay for one competition). For more about R2OC see their website: www.r2oc.org
This developing District model and Rockford’s other successes in robotics can make this region a Robotics Center of Excellence!