copy-of-copy-of-img_8561Every alternating year since 1927 the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois has hosted the largest trade and engineering exposition known across international borders. Known as IMTS, the International Manufacturing Technology Show has been a beacon of inspiration and excitement across the technological and engineering communities since its inception. Penn High School’s Robotics Team (135) has had the great privilege of presenting—as well as participating in—this year’s exposition.

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A few weeks before IMTS, Dan Green, Illinois FIRST Executive Director, personally contacted head coach Jim Langfeldt about presenting on behalf of FIRST. The Penn students were asked to put together a presentation that represented FIRST and its programs and would be showed at IMTS. The presentation was to last roughly 30 minutes and would be used to stir up interest in starting and funding FIRST teams. Every student was able to participate, contributing their own personal anecdotes and experiences to the presentation.

Wheimg_8715n the day came, Penn Robotics Team 135 packed up the trailer, robot and all, and headed to McCormick Place for the four days that followed. Team members took shifts traveling up to McCormick Place in order to present to the public alongside Dan Green, as well as to inform young people about the robotics programs offered by first. In the FIRST conference room, there was much intrigue and fascination towards our robot.

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After a quick Q&A session concerning FIRST Robotics, the team gave a more hands-on demonstration of the capabilities of FIRST robotics, further catching the audience’s attention. Middle and high school students alike were able to get experience with manipulating the robot and completing some of the technical challenges that FIRST issues to its members. Afterwards, brochures were passed around, and business cards were distributed to new acquaintances, people seemed interested in connecting with FIRST’s programs in the future.

The Following First Robotics Challenge Members formally presented at IMTS:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
Alyssa McNarney Austin Finnessy Jack Wheet Maguire Burton
Chase Kidder Nathan Petrie Chase Kidder Frank Salek
Kait Kelsey Emma Clark Kayla Cole Conrad Adams
Italia Fields Adam Dewey Conner Swift Elizabeth Heisler
Kelsey Anderson Thomas Blankenship
Aidan Palonis

img_8858The goal of attending IMTS was to encourage other students to follow their aspirations of careers in STEM, while educating them about FIRST Robotics. However, those students weren’t the only ones who benefited from the experience; our team also grew in our time there. By partaking in this conference, our team’s communication skills were strengthened, while we also had the opportunity to network with leaders in the engineering field. Connections were established, and all who walked away from the IMTS conference were greatly impacted for the better.

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