Preparing Youth for Tech of Tomorrow

Student Competition Profile: The FIRST Community and Team Robotics

Student Competition Profile: The FIRST Community and Team Robotics

FIRST competitions span the age ranges, with team exercises being progressively more complex. This allows youth to remain engaged and interested in the application of science and technology as it applies to real-world problems. Image courtesy of Jim Romeo.

The FIRST Community and its theme-based team competitions prepare young minds by helping them participate in team-based robotics programs for a broad range of ages from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Volunteers, educators and sponsors work with the youth in after-school programs.

Digital Engineering: What is the FIRST community?

FIRST Community: FIRST is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future. For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is a youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM.

Founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST has evolved into a global movement by combining the excitement of sports with the rigor of STEM.

FIRST builds mentorship between young people and STEM professionals and helps them gain confidence to explore the innovation process while they learn valuable science, engineering, technology, teamwork and problem-solving skills.

FIRST offers a suite of robotics programs for Pre-K to 12th grade. Each program can be facilitated in school or in an afterschool program.

Students raise funds and build a team brand to participate. This helps them apply their team-building skills, and build industrial-scale robots that are used to play field games.

DE: Who are some of the organizations that sponsor FIRST?

FIRST Community: FIRST is supported by a strong network of corporations, educational and professional institutions, and individuals. The sponsors vary in the level of sponsorship and the specific programs they support but they represent a broad range of industries in large, medium and small companies.

Some of their sponsors include: 3M, Amazon, Apple, The Argosy Foundation, BAE Systems, Bechtel, Boeing, Bosch, Caterpillar, DEKA Research & Development, Department of Defense STEM, Dow, FedEx, Ford, General Motors, Google, John Deere, LEGO Education, Lockheed Martin, NASA, National Instruments, Qualcomm, Raytheon Technologies, Rockwell Automation, TE Connectivity and Disney.

DE: What are some of the upcoming competitions?

FIRST Community: The competitions follow a general theme and that becomes the basis of competitions for different team levels.

During the 2022-2023 robotics season, FIRST Energize, presented by Qualcomm, challenges teams to re-imagine the future of sustainable energy and power their ideas forward. This is an overarching theme that extends down into other competitions related to sustainable energy and power.

For example, in the Superpowered challenge, FIRST LEGO, which is part of the overarching FIRST organization, challenges teams to explore where energy comes from and how it is distributed, stored and used—and then put their superpowered creativity to work to innovate for a better energy future.

In the Powerplay presented by Raytheon Technologies challenge, FIRST Tech Challenge teams (for ages 8 to 12) compete in an energy-driven game and test the limits of performance, efficiency and endurance as they power their innovations forward.

In the older aged student teams (ages 14-18) students work on even more sophisticated projects. In the Charged Up challenge presented by Haas, FIRST Robotics Competition teams will unlock the power of engineering to transform renewable energy and power a better future.

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About the Author

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Jim Romeo

Jim Romeo is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, VA. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].

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