A group of high-school students are proving that the ability to see and understand data is not only important in the business world, but in the world of robotics competitions as well. FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is exposing students in its FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) program to Tableau Software (NYSE: DATA) to learn how to analyze data gathered in preparation for the 2014 FIRST Robotics Competition season. Students have access to Tableau free through the company’s Tableau for Students program.
FIRST became aware of Tableau when students from Raisbeck Aviation High School in Washington State began using the software to analyze their “scouting” data, a mix of qualitative and quantitative data collected about their robots used in the FIRST Robotics Competition. The team discovered that with Tableau, it could build a system to visualize and analyze data on the fly rather than spending weeks trying to find results using only a spreadsheet tool.
“Before Tableau, we spent weeks trying to put together a system that would allow us to track and find insights from our robotics data,” said Quinn Schiller, a student and member of Raisbeck Aviation High School’s FRCteam. “I realized I could get free access to Tableau through its program for students, and in just a few hours we were creating visualizations and finding meaning in our data.”
The Puget Sound high school went on to win every FRC regional competition they attended, and went undefeated in their qualification rounds at the FIRST Championship in St. Louis, Mo. that year. The FIRST Robotics Competition organizers took notice and decided to introduce its broader membership to Tableau.
“We’re excited about adding a data analysis tool to the FIRST Robotics Competition’s Kit of Parts,” said Frank Merrick, Director of FRC. “It’s always exciting to work with enthusiastic suppliers to incorporate things that teams have discovered and used effectively in to the assortment of items available to all teams.”
Tableau is working with FIRST to monitor and learn from how its students are using its products. It has also built a series of instructional tutorials for FIRST students that teach them how to use Tableau for this type of data.
“We’ve found that what was happening with the FIRST Robotics Competition teams wasn’t all that different than what happens in businesses today,” said Jason Schumacher, Academic Marketing Coordinator at Tableau Software. “They were collecting a lot of data around their projects, but they weren’t effectively analyzing it to find insights or make decisions. Once the Raisbeck Aviation High School team was able to make sense of their data, they had a big advantage over the other teams.”
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $19 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.
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