With the good times we had at the robotics competition in Cleveland, we decided to go to Marion, Ohio for the National Robotics Challenge. This event bills themselves as different from the other robotics events due to the fact that there is no kit, rather they encourage the contestants to find materials and equipment best suited for the problem at hand. This results in a lower cost.
In addition this event is open to anyone from 6th grade through graduate school, although we only saw middle school and high school contestants.
It was obvious from the start the concept of freelance approach, as they appeared like erector sets with servos, motors and wheels. This is not a slam on the approach, in fact it is a testament to ingenuity.
It did seem to lead to very uneven competition though. We watched the finals for ‘Sumo Robotics’, Robot Hockey and very small robots in battle in a glass case. It was clear that one would be far superior to the rest.
The only downside to the event was the venue, and more specifically the placement of the rings for competition. They were up against the one side of stands, with a railing that made it difficult to see, and with judges and some contestants standing it was virtually impossible to get a decent view of the action. The judges should recognize this and take into consideration the paying spectators.