February 20, 2006

Our Son Has Been Abducted by a Robot

We haven't seen him for three days now, as he's sleeping on a friend's floor and spending all day as a member of Team 1538, the High Tech High Robotics Team. Last Saturday was the first outing of HTH's robot as well as a dozen others from local schools. It made the local paper, and was lavishly photographed. Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey secretly visited the team last week and taped a segment for a future show. The kids are learning engineering, blogging about the experience, and generally throwing themselves into it full bore. Alex's role, and his senior project, is to create a video documentary about the team.

It's all part of the FIRST robotics competition, the next stage of which is a huge event in Las Vegas in which robots will be competing and cooperating with each other in a basketball-like game. We went last year and it was incredibly fun. The founder of FIRST, Dean Kamen, is the inventor of the Segway and was a student at WPI in the 70s when I worked there. He was a standout even then. After taking a couple of years of coursework, he stopped going to classes and instead began hiring some of the faculty as consultants as he began his own business.

Anyway, the HTH robot gets packed in a box and shipped to Las Vegas tomorrow, and until then it's the full time obsession of these dozen kids. We look forward to getting Alex back again for awhile tomorrow night.



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