More than 17,000 students (ages 6-18) from around the world traveled to Detroit, putting their innovation skills to the test at the annual FIRST Championship presented by Qualcomm, held at Cobo Center as well as Ford Field.

The four-day event was attended by more than 43,000 people. Four teams from Brighton, Mich.; Sterling Heights, Mich.; Eindhoven, Netherlands; and Philadelphia, Pa., were the FIRST Robotics Competition Winning Alliance for this year’s game, Destination: Deep Space, presented by The Boeing Company. Teams from Vincentown, N.J.; Hollis, N.H.; and Mundelein, Ill. were the FIRST Tech Challenge Winning Alliance for Rover Ruckus, presented by Qualcomm.

FIRST Championship kicked off the previous week in Houston with 33,000 people. Altogether, 76,000 people participated in the two-week event.

Among the participants, many earned honors for design excellence, competitive play, research, business plans, website design, and teamwork. A not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is intended to inspire innovation and leadership in young people through team-based robotics challenges.

In Detroit, more than 700 robotics teams from 37 countries competed and exhibited in the four FIRST programs, including FIRST LEGO League (ages 9 to 16, varies by country); FIRST Tech Challenge (ages 12 to 18); and FIRST Robotics Competition (ages 14 to 18). In addition to the high-energy robotics matches, 60 teams participated in the FIRST LEGO League Jr. (grades K-4, ages 6 to 9) World Festival Expo.

FIRST Championship Detroit honored significant supporters of the FIRST mission, one of which was the Founder’s Award, presented each year by FIRST founder Dean Kamen to one organization or individual for exceptional service in advancing the ideals and mission of FIRST. FedEx was the recipient of the Founder’s Award this year. The award was accepted by Rajesh Subramaniam, president and chief operating officer of FedEx.

FIRST unveiled FIRST RISE, a unified season theme for all four FIRST programs that is powered by Star Wars: Force for Change, a philanthropic initiative from Lucasfilm and parent company Disney. This 2019-2020 season, themed around building sustainable cities for our future, is setting out to inspire citizens of the galaxy to work together, strengthening and protecting the Force that binds us and creating a place where collaboration and collective wisdom can elevate new ideas and foster growth. The reveal video was narrated by Mark Hamill.

The 2019 winners of the competitions and awards announced in Detroit include the following individuals and teams.

Dean’s List Award – This award celebrates outstanding student leaders whose passion for and effectiveness at attaining FIRST ideals is exemplary.

From FIRST Robotics Competition:

  • Paige Drob, Team 1718, The Fighting Pi, Armada, Mich.
  • Param Upadhyay, Team 4946, The Alpha Dogs, Bolton, Ontario, Canada
  • Cameron Hallett, Team 1073, The Force Team, Hollis, N.H.
  • Abigail Holmes, Team 5016, Huntington Robotics, Huntington, N.Y.
  • Thomas Franco, Team 5740, Trojanators, Cranberry Township, Penn.

From FIRST Tech Challenge:

  • Aja Capel, Team 10146, Invader Bots, Urbana, Ill.
  • Jacqueline Kocik, Team 6567, Roboraiders, Red Hook, N.Y.

FIRST Robotics Competition Championship – The FIRST Robotics Competition combines sports with the science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams are challenged to fundraise, design a brand, exercise teamwork, and build and program robots to compete in an exciting game that includes autonomous and driver-operated periods. In the 2019 challenge, Destination: Deep Space Presented by The Boeing Company, two competing alliances collect samples on planet Primus. With only two-and-a-half minutes until liftoff, the alliances must gather as much cargo as possible and prepare their spaceships for liftoff before the next sandstorm arrives.

More than 94,000 students on 3,800 teams competed during the 2019 season.

  • Team 1816, "The Green Machine," Edina, Minn., won the Chairman’s Award, the highest honor given at the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship, recognizing the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. Team 1629, Garrett Coalition (GaCo), Accident, Md., and Team 5672, First Nations-STEM, Wikwemikong, Ont., Canada, were Chairman’s Award Finalists.
  • The Winning Alliance of the FIRST Robotics Competition was Team 3707, Brighton TechnoDogs, Brighton, Mich.; Team 217, ThunderChickens, Sterling Heights, Mich.; Team 4481, Team Rembrandts, Eindhoven, Netherlands; and Team 1218, SCH Vulcan Robotics, Philadelphia, Pa.

FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship – FIRST Tech Challenge students learn to think like engineers. Teams build robots from a reusable kit of parts, develop strategies, document their progress, and compete head to head. In the 2018-19 game, Rover Ruckus Presented by Qualcomm, robots descend from the lander, collect and sort minerals into cargo holds, and perform autonomous tasks to compete on the field during two-and-a-half-minutes of gameplay.

More than 70,000 students on 7,000 FIRST Tech Challenge teams competed during the 2018-2019 season. FIRST Tech Challenge sponsors include Season Presenting Sponsor Qualcomm, Official Program Sponsor Rockwell Collins, and IoT, CAD and Collaboration Sponsor PTC.

  • The FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship Inspire Award, recognizing excellence in robot design and teamwork, went to Team 8393, The Giant Diencephalic BrainSTEM Robotics Team, Baden, Pa.
  • The Winning Alliance was Team 9971, LANbros, Vincentown, N.J.; Team 11115, Gluten Free, Hollis, N.H.; and Team 10091, N.Y.A.N. Robotics - Not Your Average Nerds, Mundelein, Ill.

FIRST LEGO League World Festival – FIRST LEGO League introduces younger students to real-world engineering challenges by inviting them to conduct research projects and build LEGO-based autonomous robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. FIRST LEGO League teams, guided by their imaginations, discover exciting career possibilities and learn to make positive contributions to society. This year’s challenge, Into Orbit, tasked more than 323,000 students on 40,000 teams representing 95+ countries with exploring how to solve the physical and social problems associated with long-duration space flight, and propose solutions for any issues they identify.

LEGO Education is a founding partner of FIRST LEGO League Jr. and FIRST LEGO League. FIRST LEGO League Jr. receives global support from LEGO Education. FIRST LEGO League is delivered annually through the support of global sponsors LEGO Education, 3M, NI, and Rockwell Automation.

Top honors went to Champion’s Award winner, Team 44314, PHOENIX, of Kaunas, Lithuania; Champion’s Award Finalist, Team 44205, FSINGENIUM Team, of Torres de Elorz, Spain; and Champion’s Award Finalist, Team 44350, TövisASAP, of Budapest, Hungary.

FIRST LEGO League Jr. World Festival Expo – FIRST LEGO League Jr. introduces children ages 6 to 9 to the exciting world of science and technology. Teams of up to six children and two adult Coaches take on a real-world Challenge, to be explored through research, critical thinking, and imagination. In this year’s Challenge, Mission Moon, students learn about the Earth’s moon and what is needed to live there.

Qualcomm is the 2019 FIRST Championship presenting sponsor. 2019 FIRST Championship lead sponsors include Google Inc. and Magna International Inc.

2019 FIRST Championship event sponsors include ABB, The Abbott Fund, Bechtel Corporation, Delta Air Lines, Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, The Dow Chemical Company, DTE Energy, FCA Foundation, FedEx, Ford Motor Company, Houston CVB, Keysight Technologies, Lockheed Martin Corporation, National Instruments, Nokia Bell Labs, Rockwell Automation, TE Connectivity, Toyota USA Foundation, Two Sigma Investments, U.S. Air Force, and United Technologies.

2019 FIRST Championship key sponsors include ARMI | BiofabUSA, Autodesk, BAE Systems, Bosch, Central Michigan University, The Coca-Cola Company, Consumers Energy, Gene Haas Foundation, Hilton, Kettering University, Mouser Electronics, PwC US, Quicken Loans, Southwest Airlines, Texas Instruments, United Therapeutics Corporation, Walt Disney Imagineering, and ZF North America, Inc.

Other 2019 FIRST Championship Supporters include Alta Resources LLC, Arm, H-E-B, J.R. Automation, and Jacobs.