- January 11, 2017
- Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
On Saturday, January 7, 2017, 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 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC).
This year's FRC, titled FIRST STEAMWORKSSM (watch video of game announcement), is expected to involve approximately 85,000 high school students on more than 3,400 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.
FIRST STEAMWORKS invites two adventure clubs from an era in which technology relied on steam power to prepare their airships for the ultimate long distance race. Each three-team alliance scores points and prepares to take flight by building steam pressure, gathering materials to start the rotors, and boarding robots onto their airships. The adventurer club with the highest score at the end of the match is the best prepared for the race and wins.
Saturday's kickoff event, held in Manchester, New Hampshire, was broadcast live to more than 83,400 high-school students on 3,336 teams at 123 venues around the globe. (For a replay of the kickoff broadcast, click here.) Teams were shown the FIRST STEAMWORKS game field and challenge details for the first time, and received a Kit of Parts made up of motors, batteries, control system components, construction materials, and a mix of additional automation components - with limited instructions. Qualifying FRC teams will compete for top honors at two 2017 FIRST Championship events: 19-22 April 2017 in Houston, Texas and 26-29 April 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri.
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 $30 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, and 92 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.
This year, approximately 230,000 volunteers (including mentors, coaches and judges) are expected to contribute more than 17 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."