LEAP (Linking Engineering and Philanthropy) is an event for FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) & High School FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams, generously supported by Autodesk. It is designed to get robotics teams out in the community and using their engineering skills to help non-profits. As FIRST likes to say, “It’s not about the robot.”
FIRST Robotics is an amazing opportunity for high school students to develop interest and skills in engineering. However, in the heat of the competition, the primary intent of this program can sometimes be obscured, directing all of the members' attention exclusively towards their robot. As a result, there is a need for a complementary program that encourages students to apply their skills in the real world.
Likewise, an abundance of problems exist in the world that need to be solved, but which often don't get the attention they deserve due to economics.
LEAP applies the skills of students participating in the FIRST Robotics towards real-world challenges. It provides students with an opportunity to gain experience in non-robotics situations while also developing actual solutions that will benefit others. It also serves as an excellent team building activity for students new to the teams. In the process, winning teams get grants to help support their efforts going forward.
Linking Engineering and Philanthropy aims to help FIRST teams apply their skills to real-world problems in their communities. It began as a weekend-long competition sponsored by Autodesk, and when we realized that the competition left out key parts of the process, such as grant-writing, we expanded it to include a toolkit with information about grants teams can apply for.
LEAP 2014 began the evening of Thursday, November 20th with a kick-off in which teams were given their engineering challenge from a high profile non-profit. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) volunteered to be our guinea pig for the 2014 iteration of LEAP.
OMSI was re-thinking much of their museum and moving away from demonstrating isolated physical phenomena and towards design around unifying themes at the time of LEAP 2014. The theme of a portion of their Turbine Hall was "Move." They asked for the help of FIRST Robotics teams, who know a thing or two about moving, to help inform this redesign. Once LEAP teams had details of the challenge, they will spent the weekend creating a solution and an engaging way to present it to judges.
In this competition, teams developed CADs, prototypes, mockups, etc. to sell their ideas to judges. CAD was an important part of this process because it helped everyone understand what the final exhibit could look like where as the prototypes were pretty rough. Autodesk Inventor or Fusion 360 were used to earn points for this portion. Autodesk provides this software at no charge to FIRST teams at www.autodesk.com/first. Adult mentors were allowed to answer questions and help brainstorm, of course, but were not allowed to do the CAD, mockup, or prototype construction.
See the kickoff video from 2014 with challenge details.
1540 is currently working on sponsorship and clients for the fall of 2017. We hope to announce the LEAP revival soon.