I love people who accomplish exceptional things with limited resources in short periods of time – to me this is the definition of entrepreneurship.
Imagine this: A team of liberal arts students from a school in Maine with fewer than 2,500 total students starts a team to compete in the global Robocup tournament, going head to head with some of the best engineering schools in the world.
Within two years, this team of liberal arts kids wins the global competition – beating the likes of MIT, CMU, Stanford, Caltech and other top engineering schools. This is like your local high school soccer team winning the World Cup – or at least winning the NCAA Div 1 title.
So, along with other friends including comedian Drew Carey (I know random right?), I’ve been really psyched to support the Bowdoin College Robotics Team. They have competed against the best in the world with results that would please any well funded large university engineering department. The current team’s four women and six men come from many different majors, including the humanities and social sciences. Students from earlier teams have often decided to double-major in computer science after becoming involved with the Robocup team. Check out the team’s blog, and also the team listings from prior years!
The successes keep piling up. After finishing 2013 in the top eight at the Brazil world championships, the team played host to the U.S Open competition this past year against schools such as U. of Texas, Penn, Miami of Florida and Arizona State. It won 3rd place against Texas (a recent world champion). At this year’s 2014 world championship, a relatively new team did not fare as well, but it did challenge aggressively the eventual 2nd place winner.
The aspirations of the team remain high. This year Bowdoin will again host the U.S. Open as they, they’re prepare for the 2015 RoboCup, which will be held in Hefei, China. The team’s performance at this year’s World Science Festival in New York City was so successful that they have already received an invitation for next year!
Competitions like this provide a great opportunity for students of all backgrounds, majors and interests to collaborate to turn an idea into a “product” against intense competition and using limited resources. The very essence of a tech start-up – which is one reason why I am psyched to be involved as a backer. Plus it’s a lot of fun ☺
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that there is also a strong tradition of Bowdoin rugby guys that participate in Robocup – Tom Hazel, Jack Morrison, and others.
UPDATE: Eric has given me some additional information about what the students on the championship team are now doing. So great!
- Team captain: Henry Work (now an Imagineer at Walt Disney Imagineering: Research & Development
- Joho Strom (just finishing his PhD in robotics at Michigan j)
- Tucker Hermans (finishing his PhD in robotics at Georgia Tech)
- Nick Dunn (Google)
- Jeremy Fishman (Clover Networks)
- Mark McGranaghan (Heroku, and now at Stripe)
- George Slavov (finishing his PhD in Math at Georgia)
- Jesse Butterfield (Quantcast\) Jesse also got the team logo tattooed on his arm after we won. And, Jesse is a Rugby guy.