The computer scientists
and robotics engineers of the future are honing their skills with
coordinated dance moves, complex rescue challenges and games of soccer
courtesy of the RoboCup Junior program hosted by UNSW.
Hundreds of primary and secondary school students gathered at the John
Niland Scientia Building on August 25 and 26 for the NSW finals of the
Junior competition. The contest sees students compete in three
categories: robot dance, robot rescue and robot soccer.
Now in its 11th year, RoboCup Junior attracts an estimated 4,000 student
participants annually around the country.
UNSW’s School of Computer Science
and Engineering is a major sponsor of the competition at state and
national level, offering not only the venue but expert instruction to
school teachers and students in the finer points of robotics.
Brad Hall, CSE Development Manager and coordinator of UNSW’s champion rUNSWift
robot soccer team said the inspiration for the schools-based
competition came from rUNSWift’s world-beating performance.
"A group of Australian school teachers had seen us competing and thought
it looked like fun, so they set up the first RoboCup Junior in Melbourne
in 2000," he said.
The RoboCup Junior robots are constructed using off-the-shelf components
from kits such as Lego’s Mindstorm range and are programmed to act
The dance competition requires robots and students to perform a
coordinated musical routine together; the rescue competition requires
robots to navigate obstacles and achieve the "rescue" of a victim; and
the soccer division is a two-on-two contest between two teams seeking
UNSW RoboCup Junior coordinator Michael Schofield, from CSE, said the
program is an important outreach program for the School, providing
professional development opportunities for teachers and weekend and
school holiday workshops for students, all with the goal of promoting
interest in robotics and computer science.
The program has proved successful in boosting interest in the field,
said Mr Hall, particularly among girls: next year one girl who began
competing in RoboCup in Year 8 will enrol in an engineering degree with