University News

High School Students From Around New England Showcase Design and Engineering Skills at FIRST Robotics

Published: March 14, 2019 | Categories: Engineering, All News

Students Learn Problem Solving and Teamwork in Addition to Designing and Building Robots for "Destination: Deep Space" Competition

Student working with robot

High school students from 29 communities spanning three states will have the opportunity to showcase their hard work after an intense six weeks of designing and building an original robot in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC) ( The competition, scheduled for Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 in the Alumni Healthful Living Center at Western New England University in Springfield, MA, features 30 teams of students and engineering and technical mentors demonstrating their skill for science, math, and technology.

Student teams from local school districts around Massachusetts and two surrounding states will participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition NE District Western NE Event for an opportunity to win regional recognition for design excellence, sportsmanship, teamwork, and more and advance to the FIRST Championship competition. The public is encouraged to attend, catch the excitement of this intense competition, and cheer on their favorite teams. The competition is scheduled to run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

The 2019 game, "DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE," finds FIRST Robotics Competition teams collecting samples on Planet Primus. Two competing alliances will combat unpredictable terrain and weather patterns, making remote robot operation essential to their mission on the planet. With only two minutes and thirty seconds until liftoff, the alliances must gather as many cargo pods as possible and prepare their spaceships for departure before the sandstorm arrives.

Over a six-week timeframe, students work with professional engineering mentors to design a robot that solves a problem using a kit of parts and a standard set of rules. Once these young inventors create the robot, their teams participate in regional competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

Founded by inventor Dean Kamen, who introduced the IBOT Mobility System and the Segway Human Transporter (HT), FIRST was created to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people, in their schools, and their communities. Celebrating its 30th season, the FIRST Robotics Competition anticipates more than 3,647 teams and 91,000 students from 27 countries to compete in Regional Events and District Competitions. More than 800 students will compete at the NE District, Western New England District to earn a spot at the Championship to be held in Houston, Texas April 17-20 and Detroit, Michigan April 24-27.

"FIRST isn't about competing, it's about cooperating, and recognizing that if you have the right tools, you'll be able to make this world a better place for yourself and for the country," said Dean Kamen, president of DEKA Research and Development and FIRST Founder, adding "There is no stimulus package that will have as much return as stimulating a bunch of kids to become the workforce of the future, the problem solvers, the creators of the future."

This season, participating FIRST students are eligible to apply for more than $19 million in scholarships from 150 scholarship providers. Western New England University has established a $1,000 scholarship open to high school students who verify participation in FIRST Robotics or FIRST Tech Challenge competitions.

FIRST Robotics Competition and Western New England District Event sponsors and volunteers come from some of the most highly regarded organizations in the area, including United Technologies Corporation, BAE Systems, and Boston Scientific to name a few. Sponsors provide resources including time and talent from professional mentors, services, equipment, financial contributions, and volunteers.

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 over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $19 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) for Grades 7-12; FIRST Lego League (FLL) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST Lego League (Jr. FLL) for Grades K-3. 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