Over the weekend, 30,000 participants, fans, families, educators and industry leaders celebrated students’ engineering and robotics prowess at the annual FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship, held in St. Louis, Mo., at the Edward Jones Dome.
Students from the FIRST Robotics Competition winning alliance celebrate their victory as world champions at the annual FIRST Championship, April 28, in St. Louis. More than 12,000 students from 32 countries participated in rounds of robotic competitions during FIRST Championship, the ultimate Sport for the Mind™. Photo courtesy of FIRST
Three teams from Stuart, Fla., Mountain Home, Ark., and North Brunswick, N.J. won the final showdown, earning the coveted FIRST Robotics Competition Championship Winning Alliance. Several other U.S. and international FIRST student robotics teams earned honors for design excellence, competitive play, research, business plans, website design, teamwork, and partnerships. A not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST strives to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.
This year, will.i.am, pop superstar, was on hand to kick off the week-long event, meet teams, and take part in a ceremony and a new innovation competition, “Wouldn’t It Be Cool If” sponsored by Time Warner Cable, a FIRST Strategic Sponsor. Major awards were presented by senior officials from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Energy, NASA, as well as executives from Autodesk, Boeing, General Motors, PTC, Microsoft, Google, Rockwell Automation, and UL, among others.
More than 600 teams from 32 countries competed in the three levels of FIRST: FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®, grades 4 to 8, 9 to 14-year-olds in the U.S, Canada, and Mexico; 9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S, Canada, and Mexico); FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®, grades 9 to 12, 14 to 18-year-olds); and FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®, grades 9 to 12, ages 14-18). In addition, 40 teams of 6 to 9-year-olds participated in the Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®, grades K-3), showcasing their science and technology smarts in the Jr.FLL World Festival Expo.
This year marked the 21st season of the FRC high-school-level program. In its initial competition year, FIRST hosted an FRC program with 28 teams in a New Hampshire high school gym. This year, 2,343 FIRST teams in 12 countries participated in 52 Regional events, 15 District Competitions, and two Region Championships. In addition to the FRC winning alliance and awards, the first-ever Future Innovator Award sponsored by the Abbott Foundation was given to Ben Mattinson, Team 2840, Blue Tide, Paradise Valley, Ariz.
The FIRST Championship honored long-time supporters of the FIRST mission:
- Founder’s Award, presented each year by FIRST founder Dean Kamen to one organization or individual for exceptional service in advancing the ideals and mission of FIRST – Google Inc.
- Woodie Flowers Award, founded by Dr. William P. Murphy Jr. to recognize an outstanding engineer or teacher who best demonstrates teaching excellence in teaching science, math and creative design – Dr. Earl Scime, chair of Physics Department, West Virginia University; Mentor, Team 2614, MARS, Morgantown, W.Va.
- Volunteer of the Year Award – Aidan F. Browne, Ph.D., Faculty, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, N.C.
The event offered three different robotics challenges; the 2012 winners are as follows:
FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) Championship – FRC combines sports excitement with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams are challenged to fundraise, design a brand, exercise teamwork, and build and program robots to perform tasks against competitors.
This year’s FRC challenge was “Rebound RumbleSM,” where matches are played between two Alliances of three teams each. Each Alliance competes by trying to score as many of the basketballs in the hoops as possible during the two-minute and 15-second match. Balls scored in higher hoops score teams more points. Team Alliances are awarded bonus points if they are balanced on bridges at the end of the match. The Winning Alliance of the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship was Team 180, S.P.A.M., Stuart, Fla.; Team 16, Bomb Squad, Mountain Home, Ark.; Team 25, Raider Robotix, North Brunswick, N.J. from the Galileo Division.
Team 1114, Simbotics, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, won the Chairman’s Award, the highest honor given at the FRC Championship, recognizing the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST.
Winners of the Dean’s List Award included: Ikechukwa Chima, Team 3059, Envirobotics, Yonkers, N.Y.; Marina Dimitrov, Team 1540, Flaming Chickens, Portland, Ore.; Chase Douglas, Team 128, The Botcats, Grandview Heights, Ohio; Tristan Evarts, Team 1058, PVC Pirates, Londonderry, N.H.; Danielle Gehron, Team 3138, Innovators Robotics, Dayton, Ohio; David Gomez, Team 3196, Team SPORK, Mooresville, N.C.; Rachel Holladay, Team 1912, Team Combustion, Slidell, La.; Jasmine Kemper, Team 2996, Cougars Gone Wired, Colorado Springs, Colo.; John Rangel, Team 842, Falcon Robotics, Phoenix, Ariz.; Matthew Ricks, Team 704, Warriors, Grand Prairie, Tex.
FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) World Championship – FTC is designed for head-to-head competition. Teams are responsible for designing, building, and programming robots to compete in an Alliance format against other teams. This year’s FTC challenge was “BOWLED OVER!™”
Using a combination of motors, controllers, wireless communications, metal gears, and sensors, including infrared tracking (IR) and magnet seeking, students program their robots to operate in both autonomous and driver-controlled modes on a field that includes two home zones with a platform and a ramp, and two protected zones.
The object of the BOWLED OVER! game is to design and build robots robust enough to push a bowling ball uphill, yet sophisticated enough to pick up racquetballs and place them into crates, and then stack the crates to score points. The final 30 seconds of the driver-controlled period is called the end game, where each Alliance, consisting of two opposing teams, is challenged to push their bowling ball into their “home zones” to score additional bonus points.
During the 2011/2012 FTC season, approximately 2,100 FIRST Tech Challenge teams competed in events in the U.S., Canada, China, India, Mexico, and the Netherlands. This season, FTC also piloted programs in Romania, Singapore, and New Zealand. The 2011/12 FIRST Tech Challenge Sponsors include Official Program Sponsor for the FIRST TechChallenge, Rockwell Collins, and FTC CAD and Collaboration Sponsor, PTC®.
The FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship Inspire Award, recognizing excellence in robot design and teamwork, went to Team 4220, Landroids, Livingston, N.J. The FIRST Tech Challenge Winning Alliance was Team 4444, Whitefield Academy, Louisville, Ky.; Team 4997, Masquerade, Tampa, Fla.; Team 354, ILITE Robotics, Haymarket, Va. from the Edison Division.
The FTC Volunteer of the Year Award winner was Mark Edelman, Playing at Learning, Fremont, Calif.
FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) World Festival – FLL introduces younger children to real-world engineering challenges by conducting research projects and building LEGO-based autonomous robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. FLL teams, guided by their imaginations, discover exciting career possibilities and learn to make positive contributions to society. This year’s challenge, Food Factor®, engaged kids to explore the exciting world of Food Safety through hands-on, minds-on teamwork.
In the FOOD FACTOR® Challenge, teams will build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT to solve a set of food safety missions as well as research, develop, and share their innovative solutions to improve the world’s current food preparation processes.
Top honors went to Champion’s Award 1st Place winner, Team 15650, Falcons Japan, Tokyo, Japan; Champion’s Award 2nd Place winner, Team 252, Blue Gear Ticks, Lincoln, Mass.; and Champion’s Award 3rd Place winner, Team 15200, NXTremers, Bengaluru, India.
Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) Expo – The Jr.FLL Expo introduces the youngest kids to the exciting worlds of science and technology. Just like FLL, this program features real-world challenges to be solved by research, critical thinking and imagination. Guided by coaches, students work with LEGO elements to create solutions and present them for review.
In this year’s Jr.FLL Challenge, SNACK ATTACKSM, teams took a hands-on approach to the topic of food safety by examining the ingredients in their favorite snack food and then learning about how to properly prepare and store it to prevent contamination. They discover where their snack came from and the steps it went through in order to be safe to eat. The Challenge was defined in two parts – the Show-Me Poster and a Model. The Show-Me Poster required kids to illustrate their research and team journey. In the Model portion, students built a representation of what they researched, incorporating simple machines and movement into their creation.
Official Championship Sponsors for the 2011 FIRST Championship include: 2012 FIRST Championship Sponsors include: Official Championship Sponsor: Qualcomm Foundation; Lead Championship Sponsors: Abbott, Autodesk, The Boeing Company, SAIC, Saint Louis Science Center, Siemens, U.S. Air Force, and United Technologies; FIRSTChampionship Sponsors: Coca-Cola and National Defense Education Program (NDEP); FIRST Shipping Sponsor: FedEx; Machine Shop & Satellite Broadcast Sponsor: NASA; FIRST Safety Partner: UL; FIRST LEGO League World Festival Pit Sponsor: Intel; FIRST Event Sponsor: Google Inc.; FIRSTRobotics Conference Sponsor: Rolls-Royce; Championship Supporters: Avnet; Central Intelligence Agency; International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE); and United States Army’s Rapid Equipment Force.
For a full listing of FIRST Championship awards, visit www.usfirst.org.
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, N.H., 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 three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and nearly $15 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST®Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST®Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for high-school students, FIRST®LEGO® League (FLL® ) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST®LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for 6 to 9-year-olds. 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 www.usfirst.org.
FIRST and the FIRST logo are registered trademarks of the United States Foundation For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). LEGO® is a registered trademark of The LEGO Group.
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