MANCHESTER, NH ― Inventor and FIRST Founder Dean Kamen launched the 2016 season Jan. 9 with the Kickoff of a new robotics game called FIRST STRONGHOLD before a crowd of more than 1,000 people, at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, hometown of FIRST Headquarters.
The kick-off included appearances from U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH and New Hampshire Gov. Marggie Hassan.
“One of the amazing things about FIRST is that everyone involved gets more out of it than they put into it,” said Dean Kamen, president of DEKA Research & Development. “The kids get opportunities they’d never get elsewhere; it might give them career options they’d never thought about. The teachers see kids who become passionate about learning and the relevance of technology and math. The corporations are creating their own futures. Most of what I get out of it is being part of an incredible community. We get to be part of a group that is creating the future of the world.”
In FIRST STRONGHOLD, a technical challenge with a medieval twist, two Alliances of three robots each are on a Quest to breach their opponents’ fortifications, weaken their tower with boulders, and capture the opposing tower. Robots score points by breaching opponents’ defenses and scoring boulders through goals in the opposing tower. During the final 20 seconds of the Quest, robots may surround and scale the opposing tower to capture it.
At Saturday’s kickoff, teams were shown the FIRST STRONGHOLD game field and challenge details for the first time after months of anticipation, and received a kit of parts made up of motors, batteries, control system components, construction materials, and a mix of additional automation components – with limited instructions.
Working with adult mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Once these young inventors build a robot, their teams will participate in one or more of the 118 Regional and District events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.
“We recognize that the talented youth who join FIRST Robotics Competition teams are learning the skills Comcast NBCUniversal needs in the future engineers and technologists we hire,” said John Schanz, executive vice president and chief network officer at Comcast Cable. “That’s why we are thrilled to support FIRST and pledge our resources, funding, talent, and time. We wish the teams a great build cycle and competition season.”
Sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, NASA, and NVIDIA, the 2016 FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff event is an opportunity for teams from all over the world to come together as a community to share in the excitement of seeing the new game unveiled. Teams at local Kickoffs in Australia, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Israel, Mexico, Turkey, and the United States watched the proceedings via live broadcast.
For a replay of the Kickoff broadcast, click . In addition, Comcast customers will be able to watch the FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff video and additional content from FIRST via Xfinity On Demand through February 6.
About FIRST: Inventor founded ® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, NH, FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $25 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the for students in Grades 9-12; for Grades 7-12; for Grades 4-8; and for Grades K-3. ® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.