In April, high school students from abound the country will convene at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis to compete for glory. They won’t by using their sporting skills, but rather their engineering skills to decide who will come out on top.
Known as “the varsity sport for the mind,” the FIRST Robotics Competition is the premier robotics event series in the nation, and the finals will be held in St. Louis. Teams of 25+ students will display their robots, then go head to head to perform a task challenge. Each year, there is a theme that all teams must follow when designing and building their robot. Last year, the theme was basketball. Each team had to construct a robot that was capable of shooting a basketball and scoring. Over 30,000 attendees, including celebrities like basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, were on hand to cheer on the teams.
St. Louis has held one of the FIRST Regional Competitions for ten years. St. Louis citizens and companies are very involved in all aspects of the FIRST programs, which include Junior FIRST LEGO League, FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition.
Corporate suppliers of the FIRST Robotics Competition include Microsoft, Autodesk, Intel, FedEx, and more.
The FIRST organization offers more than just a competitive outlet for science-minded kids and teens. The programs also offer mentorship from top engineers working in local communities, plus the chance to apply for engineering scholarships. Maryville University offers a FIRST scholarship of $3,000 per year (up to $12,000) for one student in any course of study who has competed in a FIRST program.