AutomationDirect, Cumming, Ga., sponsored the Forsyth Alliance team's entry into the 14th Annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition, with financial support, donations of materials, resources, and services.

A group of high school students from Forsyth County, Ga., formed the Forsyth Alliance to compete in FIRST, which was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. For the Robotics Competition, registered high school teams are given a 300-lb box of parts (sprockets, metals, motors, wires, processors, etc.) and have 42 days to design, build, test, and ship a 130-lb man-sized robot to accomplish an assigned task. More than 23,000 students on 1,000 teams worldwide participated last year.

The students have learned how to program microcontrollers, built a virtual banner to practice their automation talents, and programmed servo drives to build mini-robots that could traverse an obstacle course autonomously. Before the robot is finished, they will also learn about motor controllers, pneumatics, remote wireless operator interfaces, mechanicals, transmissions, and welding.