Next Generation STEM Scientists and Engineers Competes at FIRST Robotics Festival of Champions

Next Gen Competes at FIRST Robotics

Next Generation Scientists and Engineers Compete in the FIRST Robotics Festival of Champions

Middle and high school students from around the world who share a common passion for solving complex real-world problems gathered together to compete in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology’s (FIRST) 2017 Festival of Champions held in Manchester, New Hampshire, on July 29, 2017.

FIRST is a national nonprofit organization that operates after-school robotics programs for kindergarten through 12th grade students in the United States and internationally. The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills. FIRST strives to inspire innovation, foster well-rounded capacities, build self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

“STEM learning is more important than ever as we look ahead to the future economy, but kids also need exposure to teamwork, problem solving, and diversity to really thrive,” said Don Bossi, president of FIRST. “Robotics competitions like FIRST are a great way to give them these experiences at any age, and in a way that's just a lot of fun.”

This year’s FIRST Festival of Champions was held at the SNHU Arena in Manchester. It was a competition where student teams compete head to head with robots of their own design. This ultimate Sport for the Mind showdown featured the winning FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition Alliances from FIRST Championship events held in Houston and St. Louis in April 2017. Only four teams participated in this event, and one of them is the DoD sponsored Houston World Champion FTC 4126, Rise of Hephaestus (RoH), mentored by SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific.

This is the seventh year RoH has been working as a team to meet the annual challenges issued by FIRST. The team began at Correia Middle School in 2010 with a robotics kit provided by Robotics Inspiring Science and Engineering (RISE), an all volunteer non-profit organization directed by Point Loma resident and SPAWAR Systems Center engineer, JD Morrison because “FIRST seemed like a fun way to introduce kids to basic engineering concepts. If we show them that they have the ability to solve real problems at an early age, we can inspire a passion for applied learning that will last their whole lives.” RISE now supports numerous teams in the greater San Diego area. Through RISE, the team has benefitted from the generous support of the DoD STEM office and others.

In addition to RoH on the winning alliance, the following Dean's List Winners were from DoD STEM sponsored teams and many of them made it out to New Hampshire for the festivities:

Dikshant Sharma, FRC Team 226, Hammerheads, Troy, Mich.
Madeline Smith, FRC Team 2723, Team Rocket, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Gloria Campos, FTC Team 5029, PowerStackers, Englewood, Ohio

Robotic competitions such as the FIRST Festival of Champions hope to inspire students like the DoD STEM sponsored teams to become the force of the future and next generation workforce to help solve the most pressing challenges on both a national and global scale, now and in the future.

Information in this post was excerpted from the following FIRST press release

For more information on FIRST, please visit

By Emily Tully