Thousands attend robotics competition in St Louis

This week leading robotics and engineering competition FIRST was held in the US city of St Louis, Missouri.

In total 18,000 people competed in 4 days of events centered on innovation and robotic engineering.

Sponsored by the likes of Google and Qualcomm, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an annual competition for young people aged between 6-18 years which seeks to encourage interest in the critical field of engineering.

The highlight of the event was the FIRST Robotics Competition, a challenging spectator event watched by an audience of more than 40,000 people.

This year’s robotics competition was a game entitled ‘Recycle Rush’. In it, teams took to the field, where competing Alliances scored points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, capping those stacks with recycling containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing litter.

Four teams from League City, Texas, and Davis, Clovis, and Palmdale, California of the Newton Subdivision won the overall competition.

FIRST Founder Dean Kaman urged students to inspire the world and to use what they’ve learned from their FIRST mentors and coaches as a tool:

“Don’t leverage your experience here as a privilege but rather a responsibility,” he said. “We expect you to go off to college and give; go off to industry and give. Figure out how to reach people who are not already your friends or your neighbors. Get a little out of your comfort zone and help us bring a more diverse community to FIRST.”

Alongside the Robotics Challenge, 900 teams from over 40 countries around the world competed in engineering, tech, and Lego-construction competitions.

Robotics industry key to future manufacturing

The success of this year’s FIRST competition underpins the growing importance of robotics in many areas of manufacturing.

Over 2014 the global robotics industry grew by a stunning 27% on the previous year, according to research by the International Federation of Robotics.

Developing new talent skilled in both the construction and programming of these new systems from an early age will be critical for future economic growth.