ISA and Automation Federation commemorate kickoff of 2018 FIRST® Robotics Competition, encourage their members to participate in and contribute to FIRST programs

  • January 24, 2018
  • Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

Earlier this month, the rules and game-playing details for the 2018 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) were announced by FIRST®, a not-for-profit public charity designed to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology.

Combining the rigors of science and technology, the FRC challenges teams of high school students (ages 14-8/grades 9-12) to design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform tasks against a field of competitors.

This year's FRC, titled FIRST® POWER UPSM (click here for game explanation and competition information.), is expected to involve approximately 91,000 students on 3,650 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.

Once the students build a robot, their teams will participate in one or more of the global 158 regional and district events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students. The competition culminates at the 2018 FIRST Championship, 18-21 April in Houston, Texas and 25-28 April in Detroit, Michigan.

By participating in FIRST, students gain confidence to explore the innovation process while learning valuable science, engineering, technology, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. FRC participants are eligible to apply for more than $50 million in FIRST  Scholarships from leading colleges and universities.

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 Marty Edwards, 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."

Edwards 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, more than 255,000 volunteers (including mentors, coaches and judges) have already signed up to fill 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," Edwards 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.

About FIRST®

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. To learn more about FIRST, go to