Digi-Key hosts FIRST robotics challenge kick-off

Digi-Key, an industry expert in electronic component selection, availability and delivery, sponsored a regional kick-off event for high school students planning to participate in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics’ 2015 Global Challenge. In conjunction with a global unveiling of the contest hosted by Inventor Dean Kamen, Digi-Key invited several regional high schools to its headquarters last Saturday for a presentation by one of Digi-Key’s executive vice presidents and to receive their kit for this year’s challenge.

With growing interest around the world in innovation and engineering, over 75,000 high school students, comprising nearly 3,000 teams, have signed up to participate in this year’s FIRST Robotics challenge. Participation is up nearly 40% over the past two years with an increase from 51,000 student competitors in 2013 to 70,000 in 2014.

“It’s so exciting to see how a passion in engineering is so quickly emerging at the high school level,” commented Dave Doherty, EVP of Operations for Digi-Key. “Thanks to FIRST, now students have a chance to participate in a friendly and challenging tournament, competing with their intellect and intelligence. It may not have the popularity of athletics just yet, but it’s headed in that direction and we’re proud to be a part of promoting STEM activities such as the ‘sport’ of robotics at the high school level.”

As part of the kick-off,  the teams, grades 9-12, were introduced to the 2015 robotics game field and challenge and received an exciting new Kit of Parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC, pneumatic components, and a mix of automation components – with no instructions.

The theme of the 2015 robotics competition is “RECYCLE RUSH”. RECYCLE RUSH is a recycling-themed game played by two Alliances of three robots each. Robots score points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter. In keeping with the recycling theme of the game, all game pieces used are reusable or recyclable by teams in their home locations or by FIRST at the end of the season.

Teams will have six weeks to design, build, program and test their robot to meet this year’s engineering challenge. Students from the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey, U.A.E., and the U.K. will compete in 48 District Events, 5 District Championships, and 56 Regional Events in five countries – all leading up to the 2015 FIRST Championship at the Edward Jones Dome, April 22nd – 25th, in St. Louis. This season, participating FIRST Robotics Competition high school students are eligible to apply for nearly $20m in scholarships from 170 colleges and universities.

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