Fairchild Semiconductor of South Portland is funding a three-year grant to grow the number of Maine high schools participating in robotics competitions that use the VEX Robotics Design System.
As part of the grant, Fairchild is sponsoring two VEX Robotics competitions: one in Portland in December and another in Bangor in February 2012.
Last year, the first year of the grant, 12 Maine schools fielded more than 20 teams for the two competitions.
Maine schools can start a team with two or three interested students and a small, dedicated space for them to work.
“One of our first years at Cape Elizabeth we had no space at school, so students worked from home,” said Evan Thayer, a Cape Elizabeth High School teacher and Event Partner for the Portland competition. “We had three large toolboxes of equipment for the students to take home.”
Schools also need to find a teacher or parent to be the team’s advocate. But this adult does not need to be a technical expert.
VEX Robotics, through its partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, offers tutorial videos online to walk students through much of the process.