I, for one, welcome our robot overlords controlled by teenagers

It’s that time of year again. You know, the annual robot invasion. Students and their robots have once again taken over Memorial Coliseum for today and tomorrow. And you’re invited to join in on the technical carnage that is this entertaining bot vs bot competition.

The competition will be fierce this weekend as 64 pre-qualified teams from Oregon and Washington – meaning thousands of competing students and their supporters – converge on Portland’s Memorial Coliseum to compete for an opportunity to go to the national championship FIRST Robotics Competition in St. Louis later this month, and a chance to compete internationally.

This is a fantastic event for families, full of eye candy, incredible sportsmanship, team spirit and inspirational competition. The event is chock full of lovely stories, from the teams and their tales of building their ‘bots, to the business reason the program exists in the first place: to get kids interested in tech and engineering careers, lest local tech employers’ talent pipeline dry up. It’s the need for tech talent—which this program nurtures—that has Autodesk, Mentor Graphics, Boeing, Tripwire, Google, TAO, Flir, Waggener Edstrom and others from the area sponsoring the program.

If you code or tinker, have kids who like to build with Lego, are a Raspberry Pi or MakerBot fan yourself, or perhaps have fond memories of an Erector Set, don’t miss this event. Robots that stand more than six feet tall, sometimes weighing hundreds of pounds, will throw, catch, pass and shoot large balls on a playfield the size of a basketball court while they race around, collide with one another and otherwise fulfill your imagination of what a global varsity robot competition should look like.

The event is free.

For more information, visit Oregon FIRST Robotics.

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