Youth Robotics Teams Inspire Record Crowds at FIRST® Championship in Houston

More than 15,000 Students from 40 Countries Competed with Team-Built Robots and Showcased Innovation Skills with Support from Presenting Sponsor Qualcomm and Other Global Brands

Two-Part Event Celebrates Conclusion of Space-Themed Robotics Season, Kicks Off 2020 Season FIRST® RISESM Powered by Star Wars: Force for Change

HOUSTON — (BUSINESS WIRE) — April 20, 2019 — This week, more than 15,000 students from around the world traveled to Houston, putting their innovation skills to the test at the annual FIRST Championship Presented by Qualcomm Incorporated, held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Minute Maid Park and Discovery Green.

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Students from the FIRST Robotics Competition Winning Alliance celebrate at Minute Maid Park during F ...

Students from the FIRST Robotics Competition Winning Alliance celebrate at Minute Maid Park during FIRST Championship in Houston. (Photo: Business Wire)

The four-day Houston event, attended by more than 33,000 people came down to a heart-pounding conclusion Saturday night in front of thousands of cheering fans at Minute Maid Park when teams competed in match finals for the FIRST® Robotics Competition and FIRST® Tech Challenge world championships. Four teams from California – Atascadero, Madera, Burlingame, and El Segundo – were the FIRST Robotics Competition Winning Alliance for this year’s game, DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE Presented by The Boeing Company. Teams from Palm Harbor, Fla.; Elon, N.C.; and Leawood, Kan., were the FIRST Tech Challenge Winning Alliance for ROVER RUCKUS Presented by Qualcomm.

Over 15,000 students, ages 6-18, participated in FIRST Championship Houston. FIRST Championship, the world’s largest celebration of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for students, will continue next week with 15,000 more students in Detroit (April 24-27).

Selected Quotes:

  • Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST, said, “We can't build the future for our children. We must build our children for the future.”
  • Don Bossi, president of FIRST, addressed FIRST supporters: “Throughout each of our four programs, FIRST teams get hands-on experience with modern engineering equipment and technologies, but they also take on public speaking, leadership, problem-solving and collaboration challenges that build core skills and confidence. Thanks to all of you, FIRST is providing a transformative experience for our young people across all population groups.”
  • Jim Bridenstine, administrator of NASA, addressed students Saturday night: “30 years of FIRST robotics, it gets more impressive every year… In November, I had the opportunity to go out to NASA Jet Propulsion Center in California… Many were graduates of the FIRST robotics program. They were alumni. Think about this: 10 years ago, they were in your seat. Ten years from now, where will you be? What will you discover?”

Among the participants, many earned honors for design excellence, competitive play, research, business plans, website design, and teamwork. A not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) inspires innovation and leadership in young people through engaging, team-based robotics challenges.

In Houston, more than 700 robotics teams from 40 countries competed and exhibited in the four FIRST programs, including FIRST® LEGO® League (ages 9 to 16, varies by country); FIRST Tech Challenge (ages 12 to 18); and FIRST Robotics Competition (ages 14 to 18). In addition to the high-energy robotics matches, 60 teams participated in the FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. (grades K-4, ages 6 to 9) World Festival Expo.

FIRST Championship Houston honored significant supporters of the FIRST mission:

  • The Volunteer of the Year Award was awarded to event volunteers for each of the four FIRST programs: Terrell Burch from Camden, S.C. (FIRST Robotics Competition); Jill Wilker from Fremont, Calif. (FIRST Tech Challenge); David Stolz from Houston (FIRST LEGO League); and Stacey Jones from Palm City, Fla. (FIRST LEGO League Jr.)
  • The Compass Award for excellence in coaching/mentoring FIRST Tech Challenge was awarded to Paul Stewart. He was nominated for this award by Team 8651, Wait For It…, from Pearl, Miss.
  • Coach/Mentor Awards for FIRST LEGO League went to Steven Clark from Hoschton, Ga.; Charbel AINajjar from Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Lori Farris from Shawnee, Okla.; and Enoch Jocob from Abuja, Nigeria.

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