The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is an international high school program supporting, teams of high school students, coaches, and mentors who work over six weeks to build game-playing robots that weigh up to 125 pounds.
These automata are designed to complete tasks such as scoring balls and flying discs into goals, putting inner tubes onto racks, hanging on bars, and balancing on balance beams. The game, along with the required set of tasks, changes each year and, while each team is given a standard set of parts, they are also allowed a budget and are encouraged to buy or make specialized parts for their robots.
The FIRST Robotics Competition is one of four robotics competition programs organized by FIRST, the other three being FIRST Lego League Jr., FIRST Lego League, and the FIRST Tech Challenge.
The FIRST Robotics Competition has a unique culture, built around two values: “Gracious Professionalism” embraces the competition inherent in the program, but rejects negativity and bullying, and “Coopertition” emphasizes that teams can cooperate and compete at the same time.
The goal of the program is to inspire students to become science and technology leaders.
Last year was the 29th year of the competition, and over 3,600 teams with more than 91,000 students and 25,000 mentors from 27 countries built robots. They competed in 63 Regional Competitions, 85 District Qualifying Competitions, and 10 District Championships.
Over 800 teams won slots to attend the two FIRST Championship events, where they compete for a chance to play on the Einstein field to become the FIRST Champion. In addition to the on-field competition, teams and team members competed for awards recognizing entrepreneurship, creativity, engineering, industrial design, safety, controls, media, quality, and exemplifying the core values of the program.
This year, an all-girls team named EVE Robotics, the only all-girls team in the state of Georgia, has risen to compete in the 2019 FIRST World Championship held in Houston, Texas.
The journey of EVE is inspiring. They participated in the lower division of robotics, FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), for four seasons and have made their way up to the highest division, FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) this year.
In their rookie season, EVE won the Rookie All-Star Award, the highest award a rookie team can receive, at the Gainesville District Qualifier and PCH District State Championship. Out of 85 district teams, PCH State Championship invited the top 45 teams, and EVE Robotics ranked 18th overall in the PCH District, earning a spot in the 2019 World Championship.
Moreover, they won the Imagery Award and the Highest Rookie Seed Award and attended the World Championships (WC) in Houston, TX last week.
EVE Robotics is mentored by Timothy Smith, a technology executive at Dispersive Networks, whose two daughters have been part of FIRST programs for many years. Tymirra Smith, who is graduating from Georgia Tech in May 2020, with aspirations to develop life-changing robotics-based solutions, also mentors EVE Robotics, and her younger sister Shaneese is a member of the team.
Dispersive has contributed to many mentor-based programs related to Science and Technology. In the case of EVE, Dispersive co-sponsored the team alongside NASA, FedEx, Novelis, Johnson STEM Activity Center, TDS Design, and Uo.
“There are no breakthrough technology solutions without collaboration and cooperation,” said Ed Wood, CEO of Dispersive. “The mission of FIRST makes it clear that we all do better when we compete in positive ways, and that the real winner is a future where innovation is a team sport contributed to by outstanding individuals. We’re extremely proud to sponsor the EVE team alongside partners from government, business and the non-profit world.”
America faces a shortage of 1.1 million STEM workers by 2024. To reduce this gap, programs like FIRST are attracting, mentoring and supporting young people in pursuit of innovation and education.
The journey from the game reveal to the first blank sheet on the drawing board and, ultimately, to the completed robot is long and stressful. Students are investing their time into the team, and the value and benefits of this hard work are priceless. The team is still looking for funding and sponsors and has set up a GoFundMe page here. Any support towards achieving their goal will inspire young students to pursue their STEM careers.
Edited by Erik Linask
Analyst & Consultant
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