19th Annual Championship Planned for Atlanta Georgia Dome, April 15-17

19th Annual FIRST® Championship Founded by Inventor Dean Kamen Captures the Excitement for Science and Technology Among Young People With Three Levels of Robotics Competitions Planned for Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, April 15-17

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Scheduled to Speak April 16

ATLANTA, April 13, 2010
-? In a series of high-energy, intense robotic competitions set in a national sporting event-type atmosphere, the annual
FIRST ® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship, founded by Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest in science and technology, will bring together more than 10,000 students from 30 countries, 530 robots and thousands of cheering spectators to Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, April 15-17. FIRST Championship includes three divisions within FIRST: The FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®); the FIRST®Tech Challenge (FTC®); and the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®). 
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is scheduled to address more than 20,000 FIRST fans on April 16, at noon EDT.

Founded in 1989 by iconic American inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to ignite young people’s interest in science and technology. This season, the life-changing, career-molding, multinational FIRST competition gave 212,000 young people worldwide the opportunity to work with professional engineers to solve complex, real-world problems, and help to fuel the next-generation of leaders.

"This is really the pinnacle of innovation and imagination for young people as they compete and flex the muscle between their ears on a world stage," said Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST. "For the thousands of young problem-solvers participating in this event, which celebrates science and engineering, we know that this is just the beginning of their journey; because we also know that many of them will unlock the mysteries to solve the world’s toughest challenges in the years ahead."

Support, investment in STEM increases

The 19th annual FIRST Championship kicks off as momentum in the U.S. builds for fueling a robust talent pipeline of innovative 21st century STEM professionals. Multiple science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives this year include: the first annual National Robotics Week, April 10-18, a celebration of robotics technology innovation passed by the Congressional Caucus on Robotics; and  President Obama’s Educate to Innovate initiative, a $250 million public-private effort aimed at improving students’ participation and performance in STEM.  

FIRST competition season

Each competition season, FIRST issues an engineering challenge to each FIRST program.  With the help of mentors and professional engineers, FIRST students then build and program their robots to compete in the challenge. Their engineering prowess is put to the test during a series of intense, exciting regional robotics competitions internationally, which started last fall and ended earlier this month.  The programs competing at FIRST Championship in Atlanta include:

  • FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)

The FRC Championship for high-school students is now in its largest season ever. For this year’s engineering challenge, "Breakaway," 1,809 robotics teams with an average of 25 students per team will test their engineering expertise, as their robots compete in a soccer-like game to climb obstacles and score goals against their opponents. 

  • FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)

The FTC World Championship offers high-school students the FIRST Tech Challenge, using a more accessible and affordable modular robotics kit. More than 100 robotics teams comprised of approximately 10 students each will compete in the "Hot Shot! " challenge, in which teams’ robots earn points by collecting and firing balls into their designated goals. 

  • FIRST LEGO League(FLL)

The FLL World Festival for middle-school (Grades 4 to 8, ages 9 to 14-year-olds and 9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) features students from 84 teams from around the world. This year’s FLL Challenge, "Smart Move," is focused on applying robotics and research to some of today’s transportation safety and efficiency problems. 

  • Scholarships

All FIRST participants are eligible for more than $12 million in scholarships from 130 of the finest science and engineering schools in the country. Scholarship providers will be featured in "Scholarship Row," where representatives will be on hand to offer more information about their schools’ or organizations’ science and engineering programs as well as their support of FIRST

  • Sponsors

Official Championship Sponsors of the 2010 FIRST Championship include: Abbott, Autodesk, BAE Systems, SAIC and United Technologies. Other FIRST sponsors this year are: Boeing-FIRST Championship Sponsor; FedEx Corporation-FIRST Shipping Sponsor; NASA-Machine Shop and Satellite Broadcast Sponsor; Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. - FIRST Safety Partner; Association for Laboratory Automation (ALA)-FIRST Judges Sponsor; Google-FIRST Event Sponsor; Missouri S&T-FIRST Scholarship Row Sponsor; Central Intelligence Agency and Rolls Royce-FIRST Robotics Conference Sponsors.

Editor’s Note: FRC practice matches will be held on Thursday, April 15, and competition matches will be held Friday, April 16, and Saturday, April 17. FLL and FTC matches will be held on Thursday and Friday. Beta video and digital photos of previous FIRST competitions are available on request.

About FIRST®

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 three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and nearly $12 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious ProfessionalismT 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 www.usfirst.org.

FIRST® is a registered trademark of the United States Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (US FIRST).
LEGO® is a registered trademark of The LEGO Group.

Media Contacts:

Katie Cinnamond, Cone, for FIRST

Marian Murphy
603-666-3906 ext. 409