By Mark Carlson
A group of Chinese robotics competitors got an assist from some Iowa communities after their robot was lost en route to Iowa City last weekend.
The group found out their airline lost the robot after landing in Chicago on Friday. They were set to compete in a FIRST Tech Challenge event at Regina High School on Saturday, an event promoted by the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering.
Upon finding out the robot was gone, students in Solon decided to let the Chinese team borrow their spare robot, said local event partner Rebecca Whitaker.
“When they checked in at seven [to the competition], they had made a mini version of the robot that was lost,” Whitaker said.
The Chinese team worked to program the robot throughout the night. Members said nothing would have been possible without the help of other teams, which were from Iowa and a few surrounding states.
“Some teams gave us some other materials, in total four teams helped us,” said Owen Li, 14, of the Shenzhen Middle School in China. “It kind of is a spirit of helping each other, so I think this experience is kind of meaningful.”
The Chinese students ended up winning the design award, which will allow them to compete in another Iowa competition next month.
“They were completely thrilled, completely thrilled,” Whitaker said. “Hopefully we’ve been able to open our arms and say, you know what, come on over to Iowa we love you here.”
The team got another surprise Tuesday when the airlines notified them that the lost robot had been found.
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