Universal Orlando Mentors FIRST Robotics Team

Universal Orlando Mentors FIRST Robotics Team

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Happy Pi Day! As part of the NBC Universal family, we’re thrilled here at Universal Orlando Resort to bring you a “Pi Is Universal” story from a unique warehouse down the street.

Power tools are buzzing, computer boards are clicking, and future technologists (who currently look oddly like high school students) are rushing all over making… something. What might sound like a scene from a mad scientist film is actually the best way to describe an evening with Exploding Bacon.

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Exploding Bacon FIRST Robotics Competition Prototype

Comprised of students from 12 schools across four Central Forida counties, Exploding Bacon is 4-H club that loves robots. And it’s here in their warehouse-turned-lab that they work tirelessly—almost every night of the week—to design, build and program a robot in the hopes of winning the FIRST Robotics Competition.

AKA: Just another day in the office for Exploding Bacon.

FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”, and it’s aimed at helping high school students get excited about pursuing a career in technology. The program kicks off each year in January and, once entries are finalized, provides students with a specific challenge that must be solved in just six short weeks.

This year’s is “Recycle Rush” and requires students to design and build a robot that can stack recycle bins and sort recycled materials as quickly as possible.

FIRST1Comcast and NBCUniversal understand the importance of getting kids excited about technology—in fact, the growth and expansion of our organization is vitally dependent on it. And since Universal Orlando Resort is known for having some of the most advanced technology in all of Comcast, our CIO jumped at the opportunity to help out when asked by NBCUniversal to prepare a mentor team.

This year, I had the pleasure of leading a team of mentors drawn from different divisions within Universal Orlando including: Parks Technology, Entertainment, Universal Creative, Finance and Operations. We were able to assist the teams with sponsorship, technical assistance, planning and competition prep.

It was great for our mentors to spend time discussing their jobs and experiences at Universal Orlando with the students—especially focusing on the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) within these roles.

But back to the warehouse with the robots.

Exploding Bacon sizzled with creativity and technical know-how all season long getting ready for the big show, turning the prototypes you see here into a mean, lean, recycling machine. Along with participating in the competition season, they also do community outreaches throughout the year where they showcase robots and help younger students get excited about technology.

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Exploding Bacon FIRST Robotics Competition Prototype

The build phase has ended, and they’re now in the final competition today, March 3/14—aka Pi Day —at the Orlando FRC Regional Competition at UCF. We’re excited to join the competition and watch as high-school students from all over the state compete against each other in the name of science and math.

While you never know which team will place first until competition day, it’s truly amazing to see how hard these students have worked and even more amazing to see how excited they are about technology. Giving up most nights and weekends, the students have given this build everything they’ve got.

If Exploding Bacon is a good indicator of tomorrow’s upcoming engineers and technology gurus, the future definitely looks bright.

For more about the competition, click here. And happy Pi Day!

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