In the Spring of 2013, April 4-6, the State of Maine will join the growing list of states and nations around the world that host a regional FIRST Robotics Competition. The inaugural “Pine Tree Regional” will be held at the Androscoggin Bank Colisée in Lewiston; the competition is fully sanctioned by the FIRST Robotics national office. The date of the new regional competition was just announced, in cooperation with regional planning around the world.
For over 15 years, a handful of teams from Maine have been attending regional competitions in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and beyond. With the growth of FIRST Robotics around the world, increased corporate support for new and existing Maine teams by a partnership of companies led by Fairchild Semiconductor, and the push around the nation for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related activities for youth, the Pine Tree Regional FIRST Robotics Competition is a next logical step for Maine.
True to the FIRST culture of collaboration and “coopetition,” the planning committee for this event is an offshoot of the Maine Robotics Coalition that was formed almost 10 years ago to support and promote all FIRST Robotics teams in Maine. The Pine Tree Regional Planning Committee is comprised of professional mentors, parents and educators from each of Maine’s ten teams.
A single team consists of twenty to forty high school students, numerous professional mentors (including parents as mentors), and even some younger brothers and sisters. It has been the experience of FIRST teams everywhere that most of the students involved on a team end up furthering their education in some STEM field.
The planning committee expects approximately 2000 people to attend the spring competition as spectators, with an excitement level to rival any sports competition. Beyond its value to education and the economy, students have found FIRST Robotics to be “some of the hardest fun” they have ever had, a promise made by the founders years ago.
FIRST was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen of Deka Research and Development Corporation as a way to excite young people in science and technology, and give them professional role models working in these fields. In 2012 – 13, there will be more than 2700 FRC teams competing with over 54,000 high school students from around the world.
FIRST participants have exclusive access to over $15 million in college scholarships from over 600 scholarship opportunities. Robots seen in this competition are built in 6 weeks from a common kit of parts and weigh about 150 pounds. The competition season consists of 57 regional competitions around the world, culminating in the World Championship in St. Louis, MO in late April.
Interested members of the community are invited to support this event with corporate and individual contributions made payable to FIRST Pine Tree Regional, FIRST, 200 Bedford Street, Manchester, NH 03101-1103. The fundraising goal needed to hold the competition is $100,000, with numerous sponsorship levels available. Hundreds of volunteer opportunities will also be available in the organization and operation of the spring event in Lewiston.
For more information or to get involved, contact the planning committee at firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www.pinetreeregional.org on the Web. “Like” the event Facebook page “Pine Tree Regional” to receive updates and join in the conversation.
Good read: 3D printed robots and organs.