Volunteering as a judge at the South Florida Regional 2023 FIRST Robotics Competition was an unforgettable experience. From meeting teams from all over the world, including Panama, Colombia, Pittsburgh, Ohio, and all over Florida, to witness the impressive engineering designs and hard work that each team put into their robots, it was indeed a weekend to remember.

Throughout the competition, I had the opportunity to interact with students who demonstrated their creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in building their robots. It was inspiring to see young people so passionate about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (S.T.E.M.) and working together to develop innovative solutions.

As a judge, I evaluated the teams and recognized their achievements. I was amazed at each team’s hard work and dedication to building their robots. They had spent countless hours designing, building, and programming their robots to perform specific tasks, and their hard work paid off.

The winning teams, including Team 695 – Bison Robotics from Beachwood, Ohio, Team 179 – Children of the Swamp from Riviera Beach, Florida, and Team 3653 – Botcats from Hollywood, Florida, all did an outstanding job in the competition. However, the runner-up teams, including Team 5472 – The Wyld Stallyns from Delray Beach, Florida, Team 180 – S.P.A.M. from Stuart, Florida, and Team 7652 – MiamiBeachBots from Miami Beach, Florida, also demonstrated impressive skills in engineering, design, and teamwork.

The MacGyver Award, which recognizes a team’s ingenuity and resourcefulness, went to Team 8581 – PizzaByte Robotics from Panama demonstrated these qualities by adapting their robot to a new challenge during the competition and completing the task.

Being a judge at the South Florida Regional 2023 FIRST Robotics Competition was a fantastic experience. Seeing the level of dedication and passion that the teams put into their robots was genuinely inspiring. I left the competition feeling hopeful and optimistic about the future of S.T.E.M. and the young people working hard to make a difference in this field.

Other notable awards include the Gracious Professionalism Award, which went to Team 59 – RamTech from Miami, Florida, for their exceptional sportsmanship and respect towards other teams and volunteers. In addition, the Volunteer of the Year award went to Stacey Jones; both are dedicated and passionate supporters of Maker Faire Miami for many years, who has volunteered countless hours to help organize and run the event and promote S.T.E.M. education.

If you can volunteer at a FIRST Robotics Competition, I highly recommend it. Not only will you witness the fantastic work that young people are doing in S.T.E.M., but you will also be a part of a community that positively impacts the world.



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