I first heard about FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) when living in Silicon Valley. This year, I realized that Emek Hefer (where I live), has their very own FIRST Robotics team. For the past 6 weeks, a group of ~10 kids aged 14 and above, adult mentors, and many other support staff, worked nonstop to prepare for the Israeli FIRST competition. After quite an intense and suspenseful 2 days, our local team secured it’s place in the Atlanta finals!!!
For those unfamiliar with the program, definitely check out the site. But in a nutshell, within 6 weeks of receiving the challenge, these teenagers designed and built a robot, while going to school, and continuing their lives. Sure, they spent a few nights sleeping in school, ate too much junk food, and were powered by adrenaline, but in the end delivered the goods. (Say, doesn’t that sound a bit similar to life in a hi-tech company???).
You can view the first place Misgav Robot showing off below:
However, let me describe a few of the differences between the Emek Hefer robotics team, and their counterpart at Gunn High School in Palo Alto. Gunn raises about $90,000 a year for the competition… I can tell you that we’re not even close. The Gunn team is about 3 times the size of our Emek Hefer team. But perhaps most importantly, in Palo Alto, the kids have all they need within the compounds of the school. From the photo of the Robot, you can see that it requires a full metal shop. Our school doesn’t exactly have one of those, so the kids (with the help of their mentors and parents) solicit support from locals. In our region, 2 guys from a nearby Moshav opened their metal shop, dedicating their time, material and machines to help the kids along. It’s no surprise that Israeli engineers are known for their resourcefulness and problem solving abilities… they’ve been trained this way since they were young.
From the Palo Alto online article, “Many industry leaders expect that some of these teenagers will become Silicon Valley's future multi-millionaires, following in the footsteps of Apple Computer's Steve Jobs, Google's co-founders Larry Paige and Sergey Brin, and now YouTube's hot shots Chad Hurley and Steve Chen.”
Guess what we’re expecting of the Israeli teenagers .
Go Thunderbolts 2630!! Good Luck in Atlanta!!!