WHAT IS THE FIRST ROBOTICS COMPETITION?
“FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills. The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting Mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.” –FIRST® website (www.usfirst.org)
Each year a new game/challenge is released in January during an event
called “Kickoff.” At this point, the teams receive the rules and objective of the
new challenge, and a starting kit for building a simple and basic, 125 pound
robot. At this point, the teams enter a build period, where they can strategize
and assemble their own robot that can complete the task most efficiently. This
marks the start of the season.
During the build period, the team divides into subgroups to work on
different components of the robot, whether it be programming, mechanical,
electrical, or even imagery and photography. During this time, the subgroups
work closely to create the best robot they can.
At competitions, teams form alliances to compete in a set of qualification
matches. These alliances are comprised of three robots and will play each
other in matches to see which will come out on top. The qualification matches
decide the ranking of the teams. The 8 highest ranked teams become the
alliance leaders in the elimination tournament. They do a draft pick from the
remaining teams to create their alliances. After the competitions comes the off
season, where team members continue to meet, to learn and practice
programming, strategy, and engineering. FIRST is a year round commitment.
At competitions, teams of course compete to win the event, but robotics is
much more than that. This is the chance to meet with other people, trade
shirts (a very popular tradition), and enjoy exhilarating two minute matches.
Teams are very friendly and are always willing to help, even if you are
opponents in the next match!