FIRST Robotics Competition is a robotics competition, not a robot-fighting contest (everyone asks).

FIRST Robotics Competition games are designed to be like team sports, and robots are not supposed to be intentionally harmed. FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

The teams are guided by solid principles of teamwork, graciousness, cooperation, camaraderie and professionalism. The game is always as safe as can be ensured, and students are encouraged to be as friendly with other teams as they are with their own.

They are coming to the Quaycentre at the Sydney Olympic Park from 11-13 March, and 16-18 March and all are welcome to view the games.

Team comprise high school students aged 14-18.

They must work together to design, build, program and drive robots.

Helping them are their adult mentors including industry engineers, school teachers, university lecturers, university students, FIRST alumni and others. These mentors use their experience to teach, guide and shape the students through the FIRST Robotics Competition program.

Also supporting the teams are their sponsors – large corporations, school, university, supportive local business. These help to provide funding, space, materials, tools, resources, mentors and publicity.

It’s a competition, but it teaches students design and engineering skills

It’s a competition, but it also teaches students design and engineering skills when they’re building their robots,” explains FIRST Australia director Luan Heimlich.

“They benefit from learning how to work together in teams, and cooperate and solve problems with tangible outcomes.”

This year’s theme is Power Up which finds teams and their robots stuck inside an old-school video arcade game, where they have to use power cubes to defeat the boss.

For the first 15 seconds of each match, the robots operate autonomously, following pre-programmed instructions. Then human operators remotely control their robots for the remaining two minutes and fifteen seconds of each bout.

After only a six-week preseason in which to build their robots, three-team alliances face off against each other in the two-and-a-half minute matches.

FIRST is an initiative of the FIRST Foundation and Macquarie University

FIRST Australia is an initiative of the FIRST Foundation and Macquarie University and is presented with the support of Google Australia, Ford Australia and other partners.

Executive Dean of Macquarie’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, Professor Barbara Messerle, says it gives players a valuable insight into what a career in science, technology, engineering, or maths might look like.

“The best scientists and engineers have a passion for their field, and a desire to tackle the global challenges of our times,” Messerle says.

“We’re hoping that by taking part in FIRST, these students will not only have a lot of fun but realise the kinds of careers they now have the skills to pursue.”

How to start a FIRST Robotics team

If you’re interested in starting a FIRST Robotics Competition team at your school, university, community group, etc. great! As long as you can get a decent number (10-30) kids aged 14-18, and can cover the rookie registration cost of USD$6500, you can start assembling your team and your robots.