We are huge supporters of FIRST here at The Mobile Robot Guide, so we’re excited to share the announcement that FIRST has released the theme for the 2021-2022 competition season, where the focus will be on transportation. The 2020-2021 season was entirely virtual, and all of the FIRST leagues are expected to return to physical competition events in the 2021-2022 season. For the upcoming robotics season the theme is: FIRST FORWARD. This will be an opportunity for the youth participants to reimagine a path forward and invent the future of transportation.
Now is the time to become a FIRST Mentor or sponsor a team
If you have ever thought about starting a FIRST competition team, now is the time to register and recruit for the season that starts in the fall. FIRST needs industry professionals like you to help inspire the next generation of engineers, designers and builders.
I am entering my ninth season as FIRST mentor, and nothing has been more rewarding in my life than watching a group of kids take a box of parts and make something out of it. The members of my inaugural FIRST season are now out of college, and entering the work force – and I get to cheer them on as they take on the world.
Every season, FIRST mints young entrepreneurs. It challenges them by limiting the resources available, compressing the time to prepare, and stressing the designs through the fun of competition. These are all incredible life lessons that help shape these young people for the challenges of their careers. There are opportunities for mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, software design, machining, manufacturing and of course business management. I know some kids who go through their entire FIRST career without ever touching the robot, yet make season influencing contributions to project management, fund raising and marketing.
Skilled mentors are always welcome
If you have engineering or project management skills, FIRST needs you as a mentor. However, at the younger ages, it’s primarily time-management skills that are necessary to keep the kids on task. So don’t let your lack of an engineering degree stop you from mentoring or coaching a FIRST team.
Volunteer or judge at a regional FIRST tournament
Don’t have the time to dedicate to weekly meetings as a mentor? FIRST can you still use your life experience as a tournament volunteer or judge. This only requires the commitment of a Saturday or Sunday to volunteer to work a tournament in your town. But it will be an event that you’ll always remember. One of my favorite quotes from a robotics parent was this: “FIRST robotics is now my favorite high school sport, this more fun to watch that any of the other high school sports I’ve witnessed”.
Sponsor a local FIRST team
Finally, you can always make a donation to FIRST or better yet, sponsor a local team. It takes resources to run a robotics team, and the kids really appreciate it. Plus, becoming a donor is a great way to support FIRST without the time commitment.
Not sure what FIRST is all about? Watch this video for a brief introduction:
FIRST has three competition levels
Overall, FIRST is designed to challenge kids aged K-12. For the younger set, FIRST Lego League (FLL) is where its at. FLL use the LEGO Mindstorms kit to design and build a competitive robot. For the middle-schoolers through high school, there is FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). For FTC, teams design a robot to fit within an 18″x18″x18″ cube, and compete on a 12’x12′ field. At the top level (some might call it “varsity robotics”) is FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). FRC is the pinnacle of high school competitive robotics. Here, teams design a robot to fit within a 28″x38″x60″ cube and compete on a field the size of a basketball court.
To introduce the new FIRST FORWARD season, industry leaders from FIRST Strategic Partners Amazon, The Boeing Company, Disney, FedEx, Lucasfilm, and Qualcomm joined FIRST Founder Dean Kamen in a new marquee video showing first-hand why the future of transportation is important and how the FIRST community is reimagining the future.
For more information about how you can participate goto: https://www.firstinspires.org/
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