The varsity Sport for the Mind™, FIRST Robotics Competition combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to “real-world engineering” as a student can get. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team.
Why is it Unique?
- It is a sport where participants play with and learn from the pros
- Designing and building a robot is a fascinating real-world professional experience
- Competing brings participants as much excitement and adrenaline rush as conventional varsity tournaments
- The game rules are a surprise every year
Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It’s a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.
With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.
In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.
How does it work?
The FIRST® Robotics Competition stages short games played by robots. The robots are designed and built in six weeks (from a common set of parts) by a team of high-school-aged young people and a handful of engineers-Mentors. The students program and remotely control the robots in competition rounds on the field.
Teams are formed in the fall. The annual FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff in early January starts the six-week “build” season. Competitions take place in March and April. The FIRST Robotics Competition Regional events are typically held in university arenas. They involve 40 to 70 teams cheered by thousands of fans over three days (two days for District events). A championship event caps the season. Referees oversee the competition. Judges evaluate teams and present awards for design, technology, sportsmanship, and commitment to FIRST®. The Chairman’s Award is the highest honor at FIRST and recognizes a team that exemplifies the values of FIRST.
…It’s like life. You never have enough information. You never have enough time. The kit of materials may be what you have in the warehouse. There are always people doing competing things and you must have a strategy. We’ve created a microcosm of the real engineering experience.
2016 FIRST Robotics Competition Facts
- 3,100+ teams
- 75,000 high-school students (Grades 9-12)
- 53 Regional Events; 8 District Championships; 66 District Competitions
- FIRST Robotics Competition Championship at the FIRST Championship in St. Louis, MO, April 27-30, 2016
- Robots are built in 6 weeks from a common kit of parts provided by FIRST, and typically weigh up to 150 lbs.
FIRST Robotics is truly an amazing and inspiring program. It has opened up my future to so many engineering, advocacy, and business opportunities. Being a part of FIRST Robotics has allowed me to help improve the lives of other students in my community, in the United States, and around the world! I would have never become an engineer without FIRST Robotics, and now I cannot live without engineering in my life!
Robotics has definitely helped me open up to people. My team is my family and they have given me leadership skills that will last a lifetime.