ISA and Automation Federation commemorate kickoff of 2016 FIRST® Robotics Competition, encourage their members to participate in and contribute to FIRST programs

  • January 12, 2016
  • Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

On Saturday, 9 January, FIRST®, a not-for-profit public charity designed to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, officially announced the rules and game-playing details for its 2016 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC).

This year’s FRC, titled FIRST STRONGHOLDSM (watch video of game rules!), is expected to involve nearly 80,000 high school students on more than 3,100 participating teams throughout the world. Working with adult mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge.

Saturday’s kickoff event, held in Manchester, New Hampshire, was broadcast live to the participating teams at more than 114 venues around the globe. (For a replay of the Kickoff broadcast, click here.) Teams received a Kickoff Kit comprised of donated items and components worth tens of thousands of dollars—but only limited instructions. Once these young inventors develop their robots, their teams will participate in one or more of the regional and district events that measure the robots’ effectiveness and students’ determination and collaborative capabilities. Qualifying FRC teams will compete for top honors at the 2016 FIRST Championship, which will take place 27-30 April in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

As strategic alliance partners of FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), ISA and its umbrella organization, the Automation Federation, actively support FIRST’s multi-faceted educational programs that help young people discover and develop a passion for STEM learning and career pathways.

The FRC enables students to:

  • Learn from professional engineers
  • Master STEM skills
  • Utilize sophisticated software, hardware, and power tools
  • Improve teamwork, and interpersonal and communication skills
  • Qualify for more than $22 million in college scholarships

The FRC’s positive impact on its student participants is impressive and well documented. Through their involvement, more than 88 percent demonstrate greater interest in education; more than 90 percent display more interest in taking a challenging math or science course; and more than 90 percent are more interested in attending college.

“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.”

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, more than 200,000 volunteers (including mentors, coaches and judges) worldwide contributed approximately 16 million hours—covering a wide range of roles across FIRST programs. 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, New Hampshire, 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 more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and nearly $25 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST®Robotics Competition for students in grades 9-12; the FIRST® Tech Challenge for grades 7-12; the FIRST® LEGO® League for grades 4-8; and the FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for grades K-3. 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

About ISA

The International Society of Automation ( is a nonprofit professional association that sets the standard for those who apply engineering and technology to improve the management, safety, and cybersecurity of modern automation and control systems used across industry and critical infrastructure. Founded in 1945, ISA develops widely used global standards; certifies industry professionals; provides education and training; publishes books and technical articles; hosts conferences and exhibits; and provides networking and career development programs for its 40,000 members and 400,000 customers around the world.

ISA owns, a leading online publisher of automation-related content, and is the founding sponsor of The Automation Federation (, an association of non-profit organizations serving as "The Voice of Automation." Through a wholly owned subsidiary, ISA bridges the gap between standards and their implementation with the ISA Security Compliance Institute ( and the ISA Wireless Compliance Institute (

About the Automation Federation 

The Automation Federation is a global umbrella organization of twenty (20) member organizations and seven 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. The Automation Federation is the "Voice of Automation." For more information about the Automation Federation, visit