Electronics industry distributors and manufacturers were among the thousands of spectators at last week’s national championship for the 2013 FIRST Robotics Competition, a major international science and technology event for high school students pioneered by world-renowned inventor Dean Kamen. Members of the Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA) have stepped up sponsorship of the event in recent years, donating electronic components and equipment to teams of students around the world.
The FIRST program—For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology—aims to spur interest in science and technology among elementary, middle and high school students. Founded by Kamen in 1989, the program culminates in a flagship competition for high school students each April, in which teams from around the world compete with robots they’ve created to accomplish a key task. This year’s national competition theme was “Ultimate Ascentism,” in which two teams of three robots each try to score as many discs into their goals as they can during a two-minute and 15-second match. This year’s winning team was a three-team alliance from Mississauga, Ontario; The Woodlands, Texas; and Toronto, Ontario.
More than 10,000 students from around the world participated in the 2013 Championship events, held at the Edward Jones Arena in St. Louis April 24-27.
Many ECIA members attended the event as a way to continue their sponsorship of the program, according to association organizers. ECIA also announced its posting of the 2014 bill of materials for the competition, encouraging members to participate in supplying products for the more than 3,000 kits of products needed for the program.