For the first time in 17 years of participation, the Baxter Bomb Squad - Team 16 sponsored by Baxter's Mountain Home, Ark. facility - won the annual FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship, held April 28 in St. Louis, Mo., at the Edward Jones Dome in front of 30,000 spectators.
The Bomb Squad, begun in 1996, is one of the oldest and most decorated teams competing in FIRST Robotics. With 22 students and 14 mentors participating, the team spent countless hours over four months designing, programming and building a robot to compete in "Rebound Rumble" basketball-inspired game.
Mountain Home's team was in an alliance with team 180 "S.P.A.M" from Stuart, Fla. and team 25 "Raider Robotix" from North Brunswick, N.J. After playing hundreds of games and winning three regional qualifying events, the alliance was narrowed down from a field of more than 400 teams nationally. The alliance provided a winning combination of strong strategic offensive plays and solid defense. Together the group won two successive finals.
Students at Mountain Home High School have maintained their commitment to the FIRST competition for a generation. John Taylor Novak, a freshman, was on this year's world championship team: "The endless late nights have finally paid off," he said. "All the hard work over the many years by many students was justified in this one moment. I have been waiting for this for 10 years." John's dad, John Novak, is a senior engineer at Baxter's Mountain Home facility and a longtime Bomb Squad mentor.
The 2012 "Rebound Rumble" robotics game was played between two Alliances of three teams each. Teams guided robots to deposit as many basketballs as possible during two-minute matches. Team Alliances were awarded bonus points if robots balanced on bridges at the end of the match.
Founded by world-renowned inventor, physicist, entrepreneur and former Baxter employee Dean Kamen, FIRST engages students in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, inspire innovation, and foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication and leadership.
FIRST has influenced thousands of students throughout the world to pursue advanced education in engineering and related scientific fields such as computer science. According to a FIRST- Brandeis University study, students who participate are 50 percent more likely to attend college, twice as likely to go on to major in science or engineering and 10 times as likely to intern with a company. Ten percent of Massachusetts MIT's incoming class participated in FIRST.
The Baxter Bomb Squad from Mountain Home, Arkansas.