Three teams from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, Greenville, Texas, and Sterling Heights, Michigan emerged victorious at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta this weekend, as one winning alliance. It was the climax to months of competition involving more than 1,500 teams from the United States and seven other nations: Brazil, Canada, Chile, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

FIRST is a not-for-profit founded by inventor Dean Kamen. The public charity offers innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math while building life skills. Teams earned their invitations to the Championship by excelling in competitive play, sportsmanship, and the development of partnerships among schools, businesses and communities.

“FIRST is inspiring the next generation of innovators and engineers,” said Kamen. “Years from now, some of the students who competed in the Georgia Dome will be inventing solutions to society’s most challenging problems.”

Former President George H. W. Bush echoed Kamen’s beliefs during Opening Ceremonies on Friday, April 18. He reminisced about attending the inaugural FIRST Championship sixteen years ago and recognized Kamen for fostering young people’s aspirations in science and technology.

Governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia also addressed the crowd of budding engineers on Friday, and Governor Linda Lingle also attended the FIRST Championship to support six teams from Hawaii. In the past year, FIRST teams in Lingle’s state have grown from four to 26. During today’s Championship, Team 359 “Hawaiian Kids” from Waialua, Hawaii won the Engineering Inspiration Award and Team 368 “TKM.368 (Team Kika Mana) from Honolulu, Hawaii was a Division Finalist.

The Winning Alliance of the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship was: Team 148 “Robowranglers” of Greenville High School from Greenville, Texas; Team 217 “ThunderChickens” of Utica Community Schools from Sterling Heights, Michigan; Team 1114 “Simbotics” of Governor Simcoe Secondary School from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

Student teams built their robots from a kit of hundreds of parts. This year’s game, called “FIRST Overdrive,” tested students and their robots’ ability race around a track knocking down 40″ inflated Trackballs and moving them around the track, passing them either over or under a 6’6″ overpass.

Team 842 “Falcon Robotics” of Carl Hayden High School from Phoenix, Arizona won the prestigious FIRST Robotics Competition Championship Chairman’s Award, recognized as the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST.

Approximately 1,000 high-school students used a modular robotics kit to compete in the “Quad Quandary” challenge, in which students’ robots placed 3-inch rings on goals and moved goals around the field. The FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship Inspire Award, recognizing excellence in robot design and teamwork, went to Team 801 “Panteras” from Mexico City, Mexico.

The FIRST Tech Challenge Winning Alliance was Team 23 “Beach Cities Robotics” from Torrance, California; Team 30 “Mr. T” from Montville, New Jersey; and Team 74 “Team Overdrive” from Bridgewater, New Jersey.

Eighty one teams from around the world participated in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) World Festival. This year’s “Power Puzzle” real-life challenge tasked students, ages 9 to 14, to design, build, and program robots to explore sustainable options to meet our planet’s growing energy needs in environmentally sound ways. Top honors went to Champion’s Award 1st Place winner, Team 8095 “External Fusion” from Singapore; Champion’s Award 2nd Place winner, Team 2560 “Pixelation” from North Branch, Minnesota; and Champion’s Award 3rd Place winner, Team 334 “Power Peeps” from Swartz Creek, Michigan. The Champion’s Award measures how teams inspire and motivate others about the excitement and wonders of science and technology, while demonstrating gracious professionalism.

FIRST also recognized the recipients of numerous educational scholarships worth nearly $10 million from the most prestigious science and engineering schools in the country, such as Georgia Institute of Technology, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Purdue University.

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