Tuesday, June 15, 2010

1st Hawaii Micro Robotics Conference and Tournament

Last November, at the invitation of Mr. Art Kimura of the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium, I had the privilege of accompanying Waiakea and Waialua High Schools as they travelled to Japan to attend in the Micro-Robotics Tournament at Nagoya University and to participate in the first VEX Tournament in Tokyo.

Here, in the midst of a mostly college/university crowd, I was able to witness our own Hawaii high school students completing with some of Japan's best students in micro-robotics as they each worked to meet the challenges of their individual competitions with robots measuring less than an inch and in the case of the mini-micros, less than a centimeter square. Designing, building, and programming their robots is only the beginning as the tournament challenges teams to analyze issues, trouble shoot problems, adjust programming and re-fabricate designs to accomplish the task at hand.

This month, we hope to replicate that experience at the 1st Hawaii International Micro Robot Conference and Tournament which will be held at the Imiloa Astronomy Center on the Campus of the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The conference will run from July 16-19, 2010.
I believe that the exciting thing about this endeavor is the idea that the Big Island could become a center for the development of a micro-robotics industry. Conferences such as this will help to stimulate high technology education and assist in the creation of a technically capable workforce by developing the infrastructure and skill sets necessary to support high technology robotics based activities. Once this is in place, the next step will be identifying the real world potential and application for this growing technology as we invite new industries to the Big Island to take advantage of our newly skilled work force.

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