Digi-Key hosts kick-off of FIRST Robotics 2015 Challenge

Posted on 13 Jan 2015 by Tim Brown

Digi-Key, which specialises in electronic component selection technology, sponsored the 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 of the Segway, 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.

Inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen - image courtesy of Jason Gessner via Flikr
Inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen – image courtesy of Jason Gessner via Flikr.
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 the FIRST Robotics 2015 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,” said 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 FIRST Robotics 2015 Global Challenge 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 22-25, in St. Louis, US.

This season, participating FIRST Robotics 2015 Competition high school students are eligible to apply for nearly $20m in scholarships from 170 colleges and universities.