2018 FIRST Robotics Competition Announced - POWER UP!
Tom Spendlove posted on January 08, 2018 | | 5273 views

The 2018 FIRST Robotics Competition was announced Saturday, titled FIRST POWER UP. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, and the robotics competition is the oldest event in its catalog, for students aged 14-18 in grades 9-12. Students as young as 6 can compete in Lego League Jr. while the Lego League and Tech Challenge competitions are also on the progression path. The competition was started in 1992 by Dean Kamen as a means of creating engineering stars that could be as well-known and prominent as sports or entertainment stars.

Students work with mentors from local industries and educators to build a robot that meets specific tasks, and compete against other teams in a competition that changes requirements every year. This year’s competition, FIRST POWER UP, is expected to reach 90,000 high school students around the world making up over 3,600 teams. The competition started on January 6 and students build a robot over the course of a six week build season.

Teams are broken down into the blue and red alliances, each with three teams. The competition is inspired by video games and the alliances need to work to defeat the boss. A switch in the middle of the field, power up boxes behind the player stations, and a scale tower are all elements that the teams can use to defeat the boss. Matches start with fifteen seconds of autonomous play where robots are following preprogrammed instructions, gaining points for crossing the autonomous line and controlling the scale or switch. The teleoperated part of the match lasts two minutes, fifteen seconds and alliances gain points by controlling the scale or switch, sending power cubes to the alliance’s vault, using power ups, and climbing the scale to defeat the boss. Whichever alliance has the most points at the end of the match defeats the boss and wins the match.

FIRST continues to inspire students in the fields of technology and engineering, and is a great conduit for students to be exposed to technical careers and earn scholarships. Hardware and software skills are built along with lots of project management and problem solving work. The scale and excitement found when attending an actual competition are difficult to describe but there’s a sports event atmosphere and youthful exuberance that cannot be contained. Regional competitions run from Feb 28 thru mid April with championships held April 18-21 in Houston and April 25-28 in Detroit

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