What is it?
- A unique varsity Sport for the Mind™ designed to help high-school-aged young people discover how interesting and rewarding the lives of engineers and scientists can be.
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
How it works
The FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) 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. FRC participants, as well as participants in FIRST K-12 robotics programs, use LabVIEW® graphical design software from NI, a tool used by professional engineers.
What is needed to start a team:
- Three to six engineers or other professional Volunteers encouraged by their company’s management
- 10 or more high-school-aged young people led by a teacher, ideally supported by the school principal and a group of parent Volunteers
- Funding (of $15,000 to $30,000) to participate in 2 to 3 Regional competitions provided by a single, company, a group of companies, and/or through school fund-raising efforts
What is needed to host a FIRST Robotics Regional Competition:
Funding ($150,000 to $200,000) raised from corporations, foundations, individuals, and administrations
Volunteers to organize, raise funds, recruit new teams and support the competition itself (judges, referees, announcers, security, etc.)
What has been accomplished to date:
- Since 1989, the FIRST Robotics Competition has grown from 28 teams to 3,000 projected for 2015
- More than 91% of the teams stay involved year after year
- A proven positive impact on student interest in engineering
- Participants learn the great values of teamwork, self-starting, character, time management, etc.
- In most schools, participation in the FIRST Robotics Competition has had a broad positive impact beyond the team itself. The FIRST Robotics Competition is included as a varsity sport in yearbooks
- Volunteers return to participate year after year
- FIRST has received major media coverage of events and the impact of the FIRST Robotics Competition
Hope for the future
We know the FIRST Robotics Competition will have succeeded when:
- More than half of high schools are funding their FIRST teams as varsity activities
- More than 12,000 corporations are volunteering engineers-Mentors for these teams year after year
- FIRST Robotics Competition events are as common as any other high-school sports event
- The FIRST Robotics Competition season is televised
- The FIRST Volunteer organization is recognized and admired worldwide