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Published on April 21, 2024
San Diego Teams Among Global Contenders at the FIRST Robotics World Championships in HoustonSource: Google Street View

The George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas is currently the epicenter of the FIRST Robotics World Championships, where some of the keenest young minds in science and technology have congregated. This international arena has become a battleground for innovation with students from across the globe showcasing their robotic creations.

Among the contenders, nine teams hail from San Diego County, as reported by KPBS. One such team, the Steel Stingers from Lincoln High School, has been on a victorious streak, snatching up the Rookie All-Star trophy at a UC San Diego competition, preceded by a winning performance in Ventura County earlier this year. "It's a crazy venue. It's massive," Jeremiah Jeffries, coach of the Steel Stingers, enthused about the championship site, hopeful of sustaining their winning momentum onto the global stage.

One family's generational story highlights the event's long-standing impact. The Price/Choudhary lineage, which has indulged in robotics through FIRST for three decades, brings a personal touch to the technological jamboree, as the Houston Chronicle reported. With origins in the family patriarch's NASA career, their contribution now spans from mentorship to active competition, Cheryl Choudhary and her son Ian are present at the championships, perpetuating a legacy that started nearly thirty years ago.

Moreover, budding engineers like 17-year-old Eliza Blakely and her Oceanside High School team have overcome notable obstacles, such as a persistent battery disconnection issue, to be part of the international event. "We've been working really hard over the past couple of weeks to be ready for this competition," Blakely told KPBS, with a determination reflective of all the teams competing.

While spirited competition thrives, the ethos of FIRST remains centrally about mentorship and gracious professionalism. As Charles Price, the NASA veteran who can't attend the event due to an impending knee surgery, observed from his home through streams: "Fundamentally, you've got good manners," he said. "You're willing to help your opponent in the pits to get their machine ready to come out so you can compete with them or partner with," Price told the Houston Chronicle. This philosophy runs deep in the competition, illustrating the event's holistic approach to science and community.

With an estimated 50,000 students, mentors, and family members in attendance over the three-day event, the championship serves not only as a platform for competition but also as an embodiment of collaborative progress in science and technology education.

Houston-Science, Tech & Medicine