Student Robotics Teams Celebrate Innovation at FIRST Championship
04 May 2023
DoD STEM-sponsored teams compete in winning alliance; take home FIRST Impact Award
For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®) enthusiasts gathered in record-breaking numbers to recognize the accomplishments of student innovators at the 2023 FIRST Championship. Student teams addressed renewable energy challenges using advanced computer vision, intake systems, and autonomous programming.
FRC Team 59 at the 2023 FIRST Championship in Houston.
The 2023 FIRST Championship is one of the most anticipated events in the world of robotics, where student innovators from around the world come together to showcase their skills and compete as teams in a series of challenges. This year’s championship, held in Houston, Texas, was no exception and brought together more than 18,000 of the brightest students in the field of robotics.
FIRST® is the world’s leading student-serving nonprofit organization that inspires students to gain a greater appreciation for STEM and to pursue STEM career opportunities. The FIRST Championship is an annual event that brings together K-12 students from around the world to compete in various competitions, including the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), and the FIRST LEGO League (FLL). These competitions challenge students to design, build, and program robots that can perform various tasks, ranging from picking up and moving objects to navigating complex obstacles.
FRC Team 2590 at 2023 FIRST Championship in Houston.
FRC Team 9008 at 2023 FIRST Championship in Houston.
The 2023-2023 season theme, FIRST ENERGIZE presented by Qualcomm Incorporated, was aligned with United Nations Sustainable Goal #7 and inspired teams to innovate engineering solutions for the effective storage and delivery of renewable energy to combat climate change and other environmental issues.
The game challenges required teams to design and build robots that could collect and store “power cells” and deliver them to a series a of goals to generate “energy” points. The robots had to navigate around various obstacles and interact with other game elements, such as power switches and energy towers, to earn additional points. The challenges encouraged teams to think creatively and strategically to design robots that can complete the tasks efficiently and effectively, while promoting teamwork and innovation.
Teams brought a range of unique designs and approaches to the competition, from swerve drives that allow for precision control, to unique intake systems using suction and conveyor belts. The student-developed solutions showcased the vast potential of robotics in a range of industries.
FRC Team 1083 at 2023 FIRST Championship in Houston.
FRC Team 3641 at 2023 FIRST Championship in Houston.
FIRST® is a strategic partner of the Defense STEM Education Consortium (DSEC), which is supported by DoD STEM. DSEC's mission is to inspire young innovators, leaders, and changemakers; celebrate their STEM achievements; and provide support for pursuing STEM education and careers. During the 2023-2023 season, DoD STEM supported more than 1,500 teams through team grants and class packs.
During the Dean’s List Award Ceremony, DoD STEM Director Louie Lopez congratulated FIRST teams on a successful season and emphasized that participating in programs like FIRST® is an excellent pathway to a STEM career. “The Department of Defense needs talented folks like you to solve complex problems that our scientists and engineers are faced with every day to ensure that our nation remains safe.”
FRC Team 863 at 2023 FIRST Championship in Houston.
DoD STEM Director, Louie Lopez, at 2023 FIRST Championship in Houston.
FIRST Robotics Competition
Fifty-two FRC teams sponsored by DoD STEM competed at FIRST Championship this year. Team 321, RoboLancers from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, won the FIRST Impact Award which recognizes a model team that embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. Six DoD STEM-sponsored teams finished as finalists and division winners, and two DoD STEM-sponsored teams competed in the FRC Winning Alliance: Team 1323, MadTown Robotics, from Madera, California, Team 4414, HighTide, from Ventura, California. The Championship Finalist Alliance included Team 2590, Nemesis, from Robbinsville, New Jersey.
DoD STEM-sponsored teams that finished as finalists and division winners:
- Team 4414, HighTide, from Ventura, California, competed in the Winning Alliance, finished as Championship Division Winners, and won the Quality Award
- Team 1323, MadTown Robotics, from Madera, California, competed in the Winning Alliance, finished as Championship Division Winners, and won the Industrial Design Award.
- Team 2590, Nemesis, from Robbinsville, New Jersey, competed in the Championship Finalist Alliance and finished as Championship Division Winners.
- Team 818, The Steel Armadillos, from Warren, Michigan finished as Championship Division Winners.
- Team 59, RamTech, from Miami, Florida, finished as Championship Division Winners.
- Team 2590, Nemesis, from Robbinsville, New Jersey finished as Championship Division Finalists.
FRC Team 4414 at 2023 FIRST Championship in Houston.
DoD STEM-sponsored teams that won FIRST Robotics Competition Awards:
- Team 3314, Mechanical Mustangs from Clifton, New Jersey, won the Autonomous Award.
- Team 836, The RoboBees from Hollywood, Maryland, won the Autonomous Award.
- Team 1923, The Midnight Inventors from Plainsboro, New Jersey, won the Autonomous Award.
- Team 1561, ROBODUCKS from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, won the Creativity Award.
- Team 179, Children of the Swamp from Riviera Beach, Florida, won the Creativity Award.
- Team 3641, The Flying Toasters from South Lyon, Michigan, won the Excellence in Engineering Award.
- Team 6919, the Commodores from Albany, Georgia, won the Gracious Professionalism Award.
- Team 4738, the Patribots from San Diego, California, won the Imagery Award.
- Team 2363, Triple Helix Robotics from Newport News, Virginia, won the Innovation in Control Award.
- Team 6424, Stealth Panther Robotics from Knob Noster, Missouri, won the Quality Award.
- Team 9015, Questionable Engineering from Jersey City, New Jersey, won the Championship Division Highest Rookie Seed and the Rookie All-star Award.
- Team 9008, G-Force Robotics from Clayton, North Carolina, won the Rookie All-star Award.
- Team 3039, Wildcat Robotics from Destrehan, Louisiana, won the Team Spirit Award.
- Team 2341, Sprockets from Shawnee, Oklahoma, won the Team Sustainability Award.
FIRST Technical Challenge
Nine DoD STEM-sponsored FTC teams competed at Championship. Team 14374, Dark Matter from St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, won the Design Award. Team 16091, TWCA (Team Without a Cool Acronym), Hurricane, Utah, won the Think Award.
FTC Team 18317 at 2023 FIRST Championship in Houston.
FTC Team 16091 at 2023 FIRST Championship in Houston.
FIRST LEGO League
Three DoD STEM-sponsored FLL teams competed in the FLL Challenge and one DoD STEM-sponsored FLL team participated in FLL Explore at Championship.
In addition to the game challenge, FLL teams developed impact projects that address problems related to FIRST ENERGIZE. The impact project allows FLL teams to explore real-world problems and develop solutions that have a positive impact on their communities.
FLLC Team 7160 at 2023 FIRST Championship in Houston.
Volunteers set up FLLC game play at the 2023 FIRST Championship in Houston.
FIRST is a global robotics community preparing K–12 students to be science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build STEM skills, inspire innovation and foster well-rounded life capabilities, including self-confidence, communication and leadership. DoD STEM sponsors more than 1,000 FIRST teams for military-connected students each year. FIRST’s role in DSEC is to continue to support and expand military-connected student teams.
About DoD STEM and Defense STEM Education Consortium
Defense STEM Education Consortium (DSEC) is a collaborative partnership of STEM-focused organizations dedicated to addressing and prioritizing our nation's STEM talent. DSEC aims to broaden STEM literacy and develop a diverse and agile workforce with the technical excellence to defend our nation. Through strategic investment in STEM education and outreach activities, the effort will provide students with more exposure to educational and career opportunities as well as DoD research. DSEC is led on behalf of DoD STEM by RTI International.