The 2013 FIRST Robotics Season started on January 5th with students across the US plus teams in Canada, Mexico, Israel and Australia embarking on a six-week project to build robots that will take part in this year's game, Ultimate Ascent.
The Kickoff event held in Manchester, New Hampshire, marks the beginning of the new season for high school students in grades 9-12 (ages 14-18) to design and build robots using a supplied kit of parts. It was broadcast live by NASA, the largest sponsor of the competition and was viewed by over 80 teams who were keen to hear the details of Ultimate Ascent, the game that will be the basis of the 2013 competition.
Founded in 1989 by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), now organizes four competitions designed to involve children and young in science and technology, specifically robotics:
FIRST Robotics Competition for Grades 9-12
FIRST Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12
FIRST LEGO League for Grades 4-8
Junior FIRST LEGO League for Grades K-3
The overall reach of FIRST's programs for 2012-13 is estimated to be:
56,500+ Mentors/adult supporters
64,000+ other Volunteers
FIRST also runs a scholarship program for students who have participated in its competitions. For 2013 it has over 150 scholarship providers that are making available over 750 individual scholarship opportunities with a total value of over $16 Million.
Speaking at the FIRST Season Kickoff, the governor of New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan said:
For our country to succeed, we must prepare our young people and our workforce for the jobs of the 21st century, and events like this competition are crucial for those efforts. It is going to be incredibly important as we move forward in this state and in this country that more and more of our young people are prepared.
Introducing this year's challenge, in which alliances of three teams compete to score as many flying discs into their goals as possible during a two-minute and 15-second match, Dean Kamen said:
FIRST isn’t about competing, it’s about cooperating, and recognizing that if you have the right tools, you’ll be able to make this world a better place for yourself and for the country. There is no stimulus package that will have as much return as stimulating a bunch of kids to become the workforce of the future, the problem solvers, the creators of the future.