The final gears are in place, and the motors are revving. It's time for the FIRST Robotics tournament to kick off in Silicon Vallley.
Like March Madness itself, students from all over the world are showing off what they do best. Only in this case, it's not basketball, it's Robotic engineering.
If you get a chance over the next couple of days to head over to the San Jose State University Event Center, you'll see the next generation of Silicon Valley engineers in action. They're building, testing, and competing with their robots. All made from the ground up, and all boosted by sponsorships from local companies. Companies like software maker BEA Systems, which is not afraid to say that their dollars are going toward their future employees.
When I see the robots in action, piloted by students with intense expressions on their faces, I always stop to try and remember whatever it was that I was doing back when I was young -- I wasn't designing feats of engineering, which explains why I'm writing about this stuff, and watching others do it.
I often hear local CEOs complain that young people are not studying engineering as much as they used to, and because of that, Silicon Valley is losing valuable mindshare to India and China. That may be true, but when you see the proud faces of young people who just made their creation move, you get the feeling they might be inspired to take that feeling to the next level. And that's how you build engineers.