Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your...Lawnmowers?


You read correctly. Lawnmowers. In the spirit of the previous weekendÂ’s Indy 500, I thought this was an appropriate title for this blog, explaining what I did with my Saturday. As you know, IÂ’m a media student and a self-proclaimed workaholic. So, when the opportunity came up to help a freelancer with a shoot, I couldnÂ’t turn it down. Of course I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, just jumping in to get whatever experience I could. It turns out that the shoot was for a collegiate robotics competition, in which teams had to build and program an automatic lawnmower that would be controlled hands-free, via GPS. Are you lost yet? Because I definitely was. I mean, clearly I am not an engineer, so most of these concepts were, and still are, completely over my head. However, IÂ’m all about learning and seeing new things, and this past Saturday I did just that.

I arrived at Siebenthaler’s Garden Center in Beavercreek, OH at 8:15 a.m., ready for what was sure to be a long and tiring day. I was absolutely correct. Cherie (the producer) and I spent about 10 hours in the sun shooting video of these crazy creations that actually did cut grass. A few hours in, we had a little scare where we thought that it was going to thunderstorm, but after 10 minutes of thunder and raindrops the sky brightened again and the competition was back underway. Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the first robotics competition I’ve witnessed—if you recall, my brother was on his high school team and the whole family (including me) went to support them at Regionals last year in North Carolina.

There were about 14 teams that competed on Saturday, from all over the United States and even Quebec, Canada! I totally eavesdropped a little on the Quebec teamÂ’s conversations because they were speaking French and I wanted to see if I could understand what they were sayingÂ…I could a little! Anyway, from 8:15 a.m. until 6 p.m. Cherie and I filmed the robots and interviewed the creators. At the end of the day, Case Western University was awarded the grand prize for the third year in a row, followed by Auburn in a close second.

Although Case Western won the competition, my personal victory was against the sun. My fair skin was exposed to it for 10 hours and I walked away without an intense burn. Of course, thatÂ’s after 3 applications of sunscreenÂ…letÂ’s just IÂ’ve got a new friend in Coppertone Sport.

Want to see what the competition really looked like? Check out some highlights of the 2009 competition here:

And just for kicks, hereÂ’s their official website: