WPI to put on new university-level robotics competition

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I'm currently serving on the steering committee for the RICC, the Robotics Innovations Competition and Conference. The RICC, being planned by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (home of the US's first undergraduate robotics major) and currently sponsored by an NSF education grant, is designed to attract those students that were raised on FIRST, BEST, and BotBall and are looking for a new and different robotics challenge in college.

Unlike many robotics competitions, the RICC is meant to be a well-rounded event: not only must students design and build a robot, there will be a business and marketing component of the final deliverable. The focus is not on research lab developments, but rather on practical applications of robotics for actual markets. Small teams of undergraduate and graduate engineering students and, optionally, business students must submit their report, give a presentation, and demonstrate their robot in action at the RICC event.

In addition to the competition, there will be a one-day robotics conference with a keynote speaker and sessions that discuss topics like intellectual property, product design and development, and industry needs. The conference will also offer networking opportunities for students and industry sponsors.

The thought is that each year, the theme of the competition will change. This year's theme will be "Improving quality of life." Rules and specifications will be released on January 16th, 2009, with the competition taking place 7-8 November, 2009. This gives teams a chance to brainstorm and design throughout the spring and summer before the real push to build and write up the report during the first semester of the academic year.

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