On October 1, 2018, the department of Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics hosted an event coordinated by Professors Tadmor and Flaten to support the FIRST LEGO League “Into Orbit Challenge.” The event incorporated presentations to a large number of visitors and also allowed participants to meet and converse with some of the presenters and selective University of Minnesota faculty and students.
Every year, FIRST LEGO League releases a Challenge, which is based on a real-world scientific topic.
Each Challenge had three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the Core Values. Teams of up to ten children, with two adult coaches, participated in each Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FIRST Core Values.
The participants must complete a research project alongside building the robots and utilizing LEGO. This year’s topic was space travel and colonization: identify any human health or social issue on a possible mission lasting one year or longer; then, come up with an innovative solution.
Part of the process was to interview experts. Therefore, many of the faculty from the department of Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics were present to meet and interview with the students. Additional experts and faculty from other departments were also present, and students were able to participate in presentations and hands on projects and speak extensively with them.
The 2018-2019 FIRST LEGO League, “Into Orbit Challenge,” is ongoing and students will be working to create their robots in time for the event. The department wishes them success in their research, building, and competition.