Research Triangle Park, NC — Nearly 75,000 high-school students on approximately 3,000 teams at 107 venues around the globe joined the kickoff event on January 3, 2015, of the 2015 FIRSTRobotics Competition (FRC) via live Comcast NBCUniversal broadcast.
FIRST is a not-for-profit organization devoted to helping young people discover and develop a passion for science, engineering, technology and math. Founded over 20 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen, the FIRST international robotics competition and related events attract more than 300,000 young people and more than 120,000 mentors, coaches and volunteers from more than 70 countries. In total, more than 400,000 students worldwide are projected to participate in FIRST’s varied programs during 2015.
The theme of the 2015 FRC is RECYCLE RUSH, a recycling-focused game played by two alliances of three robots each. Robots score points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter. In keeping with the recycling theme of the game, all game pieces used are reusable or recyclable by teams in their home locations or by FIRST at the end of the season.
At the kickoff event, FRC teams were shown the RECYCLE RUSH playing field and received a kit of parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC and a mix of automation components worth tens of thousands of dollars — but only limited instructions. Working with adult mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Once these young inventors build a robot, their teams will participate in one or more of the 105 regional and district events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration and the determination of students.
Approximately 3,000 FRC teams are projected to compete for the chance to gain top honors at the FIRST Championship, which will take place April 22 to 25 in St. Louis, MO.
“Fostering interest and enthusiasm among young people is critical to developing the next wave of automation engineers and technicians needed to meet the challenges of the future,” emphasizes Michael Marlowe, Managing Director and Director of Government Relations at the Automation Federation. “Events like the FIRST Robotics Competition drive home just how exciting science, technology, engineering and math — STEM for short — and automation-related learning can be for young people. ISA and the Automation Federation have immense potential to tap into this excitement, and attract many more young people to our profession.”
As strategic alliance partners of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), the International Society of Automation (ISA) and its umbrella organization, the Automation Federation, actively support FIRST’s multi-faceted educational programs that celebrate young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. Marlowe encourages all ISA and AF members to take a closer look at how they can get more involved in FIRST programs and activities.
Last year, over 150,000 volunteers worldwide gave over 10 million hours in over 80 countries — covering a wide range of roles across FIRST program. The FIRST volunteer website outlines the various ways automation professionals can become involved, most commonly as a mentor or coach or as an event-day volunteer.
“By participating in FIRST and other discovery programs targeted to young people,” Marlowe says, “we can reconnect to the enthusiasm that ignited our own drive to learn and pursue an automation career and, at the same time, inspire others to follow their own path toward success in the profession.”
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, NH, FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology and engineering.
With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and nearly $15 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and FIRSTTech Challenge (FTC) for high-school students, FIRSTLEGO League (FLL) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRSTLEGO League (Jr.FLL) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.
About the Automation Federation
The Automation Federation is a global umbrella organization of 16 member organizations and six working groups engaged in automation activities. The Automation Federation enables its members to more effectively fulfill their missions, advance the science and engineering of automation technologies and applications, and develop the workforce needed to capitalize on the benefits of automation.
Founded in 1945, the International Society of Automation (www.isa.org) is a global, nonprofit organization helping over 30,000 worldwide members and other professionals solve difficult technical problems, while enhancing their leadership and personal career capabilities. Based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, ISA develops standards; certifies industry professionals; provides education and training; publishes books and technical articles; and hosts conferences and exhibitions for automation professionals. ISA is the founding sponsor of The Automation Federation.