FIRST Robotics Competition Returns to Rocket City March 16-17

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., March 13, 2018Huntsville, Alabama, will host a regional FIRST Robotics Competition for the third consecutive year on Friday and Saturday, March 16-17, in the South Hall of the Von Braun Center. The First Robotics Competition “Rocket City Regional” is sponsored by NASA and supported by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

An estimated 1,800 high-school students on 50 teams from 12 states, Brazil and Canada will compete against one another in a new robotics game called, “FIRST POWER UP.” In January, each FRC team received an identical kit of parts and was given a six-week deadline to design, build and test a robot, with the help of adult mentors.

Opening ceremonies begin at 8:30 a.m. CDT, with qualification matches starting at 9 a.m. on both March 16 and March 17. The Friday awards ceremony will begin at 5:45 p.m., while the Saturday awards ceremony will begin at 4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, with hands-on educational activities provided by sponsors and exhibitors.

News media interested in covering the event should contact the Marshall newsroom at 256-544-0034 no later than 3 p.m. Thursday, March 15.

The “FIRST POWER UP” game features two alliances of video game characters and their human operators who are trapped in an arcade game and working to defeat a “boss” in order to escape. Each match begins with a 15-second autonomous period in which robots operate only on pre-programmed instructions. During this period, robots work to earn points according to the game's rules. During the remaining 2 minutes and 15 seconds, student drivers control robots to earn points. For more details on the game's rules, click here.

The FIRST — “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” — Robotics Competition is a worldwide program for students in grades 9-12 that inspires the next generation of explorers to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). FIRST also offers the LEGO League, LEGO League Jr. and Tech Challenge programs for younger age groups. FIRST Robotics district and regional competitions are held across the country during March and April, providing teams a chance to qualify for the 2018 FRC Championship events at Houston and Detroit.

NASA and its Robotics Alliance Project provide grants for high school teams and support for FIRST Robotics Competition in an effort to address the critical national shortage of students pursuing STEM careers.

For Rocket City Regional event information, visit:

For more information about Marshall Space Flight Center's support for education programs, visit:


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About the Author: Bob Cooper

Bob Cooper is Canadian Business Tribune''s senior editor. He is also a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and a bestselling author. He lives in London Ontario and covers the intersection of money, politics and finance. He appears periodically on national television shows and has been published in (among others) The National Post, Politico, The Atlantic, Harper’s,, Vice and He also has served as a journalist and consultant on documentaries for CBC and Global News . In 2014, he was the winner of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers' investigative journalism award, and the winner of the Izzy Award for Journalism from Ithaca College's Park Center for Independent Media. He was also a finalist for UCLA's Gerald R. Loeb Award and Syracuse University's Mirror Award. Before becoming a journalist in 2006, Sirota worked in Washington for, among others, U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee Minority Staff and the Center for American Progress.

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