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Building Future Cities: Rockwell Automation Inspires FIRST Participants to Innovate with Machine Learning

FIRST participant Louisa Wood accepts her trophy as winner of Rockwell Automation’s You Make It Challenge.
FIRST participant Louisa Wood accepts her trophy as winner of Rockwell Automation’s You Make It Challenge.

Together with our mentors, volunteers, and sponsors, FIRST® is inspiring FIRST participants to imagine and build a better future for themselves and others. Innovative FIRST partners like Rockwell Automation are helping to drive that message home through their own inspiring initiatives.

Rockwell Automation’s You Make It Challenge invited young inventors to submit their big ideas to solve big problems, and the company invited three finalists to present their projects at the Automation Fair in November.

Louisa Wood from FIRST Robotics Competition Team 4786 “Nicolet FEAR” was encouraged by a team mentor from Rockwell Automation to apply. Louisa’s solution, the Sump Pump Overflow/Failure Prediction Program, solved a problem that hit close to home:

“I wanted to enter my machine learning and [Internet of Things] program idea in the hopes that I can advance my idea and help people all across America be more prepared for house flooding. My sump pump unexpectedly overflowed last summer, so I created this product as a solution.”

Louisa’s smart system not only solves a problem she experienced at home, but it’s also accessible and scalable to any person – or even entire cities and water management systems -- wanting to monitor sump pump activity and predict floods before they happen. A sure sign of a great idea? People have continually asked Louisa if her solution is available to purchase.

Louisa’s smart sump-pump system was voted the You Make It Challenge winner, earning her a package of prizes that includes a grant to a FIRST program, a 3-D printer, a computer and a STEM workstation.

Louisa attributes the skills she’s building on her FIRST team to helping her create this strong solution and opening her eyes to a world of possibilities:

“Programming the robot is what helped me learn Java and I love how I am still learning in my third year on the team. If it weren’t for Nicolet FEAR I wouldn’t have known about this competition and I wouldn’t have had many of the great STEM experiences and opportunities that come with building and competing with a robot.”

Louisa Wood

Louisa Wood

Louisa isn’t the only FIRST participant to pursue exciting opportunities with Rockwell Automation after building connections through FIRST. Another contest hosted by RA, the 24toCode hackathon, was won by a team of four FIRST alumni who are students at Milwaukee School of Engineering: Nathan DuPont, Trenton Bowser, Joey Carey, and Andrew Kempen all received Rockwell Automation internship offers in addition to their $4,000 prize.

Nathan explained the real manufacturing challenge they set out to solve through teamwork and innovation:

“The challenge that we chose was centered around finding a comprehensive system to predict and help reduce failures in Rockwell’s industrial pick and place machines, used while assembling [polychlorinated biphenyl boards]… Our task was to devise a system of not only identifying these errors early in the process, but also finding a way to predict when and where these failures would occur.”

Read more about the results of the 24toCode Hackathon and the You Make It Challenge.

 

Building Future Cities

This season, Disney, Lucasfilm, and FIRST have teamed up as part of the Star Wars: Force for Change philanthropic initiative. The season theme, FIRST RISESM, explores how humanity will build sustainable cities for our future. "Building Future Cities" (#BFC) is a digital campaign that showcases how FIRST strategic partners, allies, and community are already at work on the cities of tomorrow. 

#IRL ("In Real Life")

"In Real Life" is a digital campaign showcasing parallels between the skills, experiences, and values of FIRST youth and working professionals.

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