I am up at 5.30am, its dark, I get some tea and go out onto balcony to get some fresh air and be ready to leave the house at 6.
My friend Dan picks me up and Theuno, another volunteer from South Africa and we head off to Tel Aviv.
Instead of doing normal IT administrator work and helping our staff in the office, I have got to work on a community project, its for a robotics competition where groups of young engineers get ready to design, build a remote controlled mechanical device in teams.
Its nice to be out of the office and doing something different, and this type of event where youth with a passion for building their own contraptions and have to obtain sponsorship from large companies in Israel to find their projects, get to pitch their creations at this exciting event.
Its no secret IT and technology has been part of Israel’s best and most exciting exports to the rest of the world, this month I got blessed to go to this event, and I am planning to go to a Microsoft technology event also in Tel Aviv later this month.
A not too long drive and we are at skyscraper laden modern city of Tel Aviv, didn’t manage to get take out coffee on the way down but there is a Aroma coffee place built in the side of the building here.
This is Tel Aviv’s Nokia stadium.
Maybe it will have to be the ‘Nokia Windows phone stadium’ soon, given Nokia’s recent plan to abandon their Symbian operating system and use a Microsoft’s Windows mobile. Bugs and frustrations in Nokia’s touch phones have caused even long term fans of Nokia to abandon to other handsets, especially given problems with the faux-iTunes-alike Ovi media software. Switching to a non inhouse software environment is likely to result in a huge job losses for software engineers in Finland’s biggest name in IT, and staff and visitor here I see are mostly calling each other or browsing the web on iPhones.
The stadium is apparently owned by Tel Aviv municipality, and built in 1964, in 2005 it was renamed the Nokia Arena. I guess naming sporting complexes after sponsors is becoming common place just like London’s millenium dome became the O2 arena.
This wiki article on the stadium also mentions a brief bit about the robotics competitions done here.
The stadium is fairly small perhaps by European standards holding about 11,000 people, the centre stage is less than a football pitch. Its mainly used for Macabbi Tel Aviv basketball club to play.
Left, my friends from work help with fabricating some new pieces of polycarbonate used for part of the stage system, the current thin pieces got brittle and cracked, our DIY supremo Robbie cut these pieces and put the holes in, we had to remove the metal hinges and fix them to the new better quality 6mm plastic sheets. A ratchet spanner makes easy work of this.
There are in-house stage staff that put up the large partitions and projector screens which are done by pulleys and also by men working up in the roof.
I chatted to a few people there, cheekily asking if there is possibility of free tickets to any bands seeing that Guns N Roses and The Scorpions have played here. 😀 Years ago, U2 and Red Hot Chili Peppers played in Israel in 90s and many fans want them to come again, but I think they played in a Ramat Gan in another part of Tel Aviv, like Elton John, Metallica and Justin Beiber in the last year or so. I have noticed Israelis are big into live gigs.
Was a long old day taking the large numbers of stage and shelving parts of this event, and got to know some local chaps, some are soldiers and some are studying engineering helping do the set up but not actually competing in the game.
A scissor lift and various forklifts are amongst lots of gear used by the stage hands here. As well as the semi-permenant tent structures, if you look carefully the white square on the ground is an outdoor lift that can move large amounts of equipment from a truck down to the basement, however it wasn’t working today. 😦
As we went home for Shabbat, there is more set up to be done sunday but there is a different team of people to help then, the event starts on monday and I will be back wednesday to see how the competition goes 🙂
There is even people coming from Lego to showcase smaller robots made from off the shelf parts 🙂
Its jolly exciting.
Part 1: Setting up at the arena
Part 2: Meet the robots
Part 3: Robot inner workings
Part 4: Competition