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FIRST Teams with Tableau To Bring Data Analytics to Robot Competitions

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC) is teaming up with Tableau Software to expose students to the latter's data analytics  software, also named Tableau.

Student competitors will be able to access the software through the company's Tableau for Students program. Tableau has also created a series of videos designed to teach them how to use the software for the type of data relevant to the competition and will in turn monitor students to learn how they put it to use.

The idea for the partnership came "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," according to a news release. "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 FRC team, in a prepared statement. "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."

Using that data, the team went on to win every regional competition they participated in and went undefeated in the qualifications for the championship.

"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."

More information about the FIRST Robotics Competition is available at usfirst.org/roboticsprograms. Go to tableausoftware.com to learn more about the Tableau for Students program.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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