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Idaho to Hold FIRST Regional Robotics Competition

By: Kathleen Tuck   Published 7:31 am / October 2, 2015

FIRST_RoboticsIn March 2016, Idaho will hold its inaugural FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Regional Robotics Competition at Taco Bell Arena on the Boise State University campus. The competition pits high school teams and their student-designed robots against each other in a fun and competitive robotic game.

Boise State College of Engineering Dean Amy Moll said that not only are the Boise State College of Engineering and Division of Research and Economic Development sponsors of the competition, but the College of Engineering also will host a “girl-powered” team.

“Using their creativity, along with guidance from adult mentors, these high school students must work collaboratively to build a robot capable of achieving the game’s goals,” said Moll. “FIRST allows students the opportunity to engage in real science by designing, building and testing their own imagined creation of complex machinery. They benefit by developing the advanced skills needed for tomorrow’s workplace, and it’s really a lot of fun.”

“This is an accumulation of 10 years of effort by a group of extremely dedicated people in the Boise area,” said Richard Anderson, FIRST regional director for Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. “STEM education is a passion for an area that supports global companies such as Micron, HP, POWER Engineers and Plexus.”

FIRST was founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen in Manchester, New Hampshire, to inspire young people to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Idaho teams have participated in the past, but had to travel out of state to do so.

The FIRST Robotics game changes every year, adding new levels of complexity and elements of surprise that best challenge today’s high school students. Once the new game for 2016 is revealed during a kickoff celebration on Jan. 9, each team will receive an identical parts kit, which includes a supply of motors, gears, software systems and other equipment. They then will have six weeks to design, build and test their robot’s abilities to meet the demands of the game’s challenge.

Registration for the new Idaho competition will close Nov. 23. More than 45 teams and 1,500 students are expected to attend the multi-day educational event described as part competition, part rock concert and part sporting event.

Roseann Stevens, FIRST vice president of field operations, will be in Boise on Oct. 8 to walk through the event venue, discuss logistics with the Idaho committee, and meet some of the Idaho robotics teams that will be participating in this inaugural competition.