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FIRST Robot Competition


ST. LOUIS — The future of engineering is in the hands of kids like Alejandro Castro. He wants to be an aeronautical engineer, perhaps an unlikely option for a high school sophomore who lives in one of the poorest parts of California and whose parents work in service-sector jobs. But a one-armed wheeled cart named G-Bot will help make it possible.

Castro, 15, was the building manager for his school’s rookie FIRST Robotics Competition team, which won a regional award and catapulted an unlikely mix of Latino kids to the Midwest for a week. Castro is one of more than 12,000 school kids from kindergarten through high school participating in the FIRST Championship, a series of three events showcasing student-built robots and the new-cool culture of science and tech nerdiness.

Go-cart-esque robots zoomed around walled-off pits in St. Louis’ football stadium as students frantically jiggled computer joysticks and Xbox controllers, maneuvering their machines around obstacles, other robots and wayward game pieces.

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