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Robot Competition Brings Frisbee-Playing, Pyramid-Climbing Bots To San Diego

Evening Edition

With the U.S. falling behind our foreign competitors in science, technology and engineering, experts say there's no time more crucial to attract young students to the fields.

That's where the annual First Robotics Competition comes in. It's being held at the Valley View Casino Center, also known as Sports Arena.

The seventh annual competition features 60 teams, half from San Diego. They have come to play and compete in what looks like a cross between frisbee and pyramid climbing with a 100 pound plus robot.

The event is about inspiring the next generation of innovators.

"Like different people have different strengths and weaknesses to all of us," said Alyssa Vallese, a student at Francis Parker High School.

"The biggest thing for me, it's basically showing me what I want to do with the rest of my life," said Hamilton Southworth, another Francis Parker student.

"And for me it's also special because I have a program class, what we're learning in school," said Anoushka Bose, also of Francis Parker.

The organizers of the event are really trying to make being a geek cool. They've created a sports-like atmosphere to pump up the competition.

The match begins with a 15 second period where robots operate independently. Each disc scored is worth additional points. For the remainder of the two-minute match, drivers control robots remotely and try to score as many discs as possible. The match ends with the bots trying to climb a pyramid. The higher up they get, the more points they get.

Every team works with professional mentors to design and build a robot for the competition. The bigger goal is to inspire these kids to choose a career where they're almost guaranteed a high paying job, and to fill the growing gap in the science, tech and engineering fields.

The championship will be held in St. Louis on April 24 to 27 with $16 million in scholarships up for grabs.

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