Monday, February 21, 2005

Smackdown In Sactown

With the exception of a visit to CSU Sacramento as a high school freshman to watch a Saturday theater performance of Romeo and Juliet (we were reading it in class), I don't think I'd ever set foot on a university campus prior to my first day at West Point. I'll be honest and state that I didn't even know where Stanford was, although I applied there and it was less than 3 hrs from my home. I don't want my son to operate from that same deficit.

Yesterday we went to CSU Sacramento to watch the Smackdown In Sactown. What is this, you may ask? Was the WWE in town? or the Jerry Springer Show? No, nothing so pedestrian. It was a "competitive robotics" event, put on by (I believe--someone correct me if I'm wrong) the ME department there. Think RoboWars or BattleBots.

Yesterday's event was Antweight; each robot had to weigh one pound or less. Two at a time the 'bots were put into an enclosed (5' x 5' ?) plexiglass cage and and they had 2 minutes to get the other one into a "pit" in the corner of the cage.

There were several ways of doing it. Some had "cutters", actual spinning saw blades or rotors to disable the other robot so it could be pushed into the pit. Others had hook-like devices to catch the other robot. Some relied solely on speed and agility to maneuver and then ram their opponent into the pit.

There were enough displays there to keep even my son occupied during the intermissions. We were there over 4 hours and he didn't get bored. In fact, he wants to go to the Robolympics in San Francisco next month, where the bigger 'bots be battling (I love alliteration). Perhaps I'll go to and find out more :-)

Kudos to everyone who had a part in putting together the Smackdown In Sactown. Great family entertainment.

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