The competition is known as FIRST (FTC), an acronym meaning For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (First Tech Challenge). Students must create a functional robot, from scratch, that will successfully perform pre-determined tasks within a confined space.
This year's team of a dozen students were in Spokane, Wash. last week for the Western Regional Tournament. If successful, they will travel to St. Louis and Houston for the world championships.
This year's robot has been dubbed "First Relic Recovery," replacing last year's winning robot "Rise of Hephaestus." Carrying over as team advisor is parent Matt Nilsen, who lends his home garage to team members who sometimes work separately on their aspect of the project.
Each person contributes to a chronicle recording every step of the project that covered more than 500 pages last year. The team works an average of 25 hours per week on the robot, in community outreach and competing during the season while maintaining their assignments and grades in their high school classes.
Jobs taken on by the dozen team members include designers, builders, programmers, drivers, photographers, videographers, social media, scouting outreach and public relations. Each step is chronicled in a project book that covered more than 500 pages last year.
Today, FIRST has grown to include programs for all ages from kindergarten to high school that globally involves over 460,000 students, 52,000 teams, 40,000 robots and 230,000 mentors, coaches, judges and volunteers in 85 countries.
After last year's success, Councilmember Lorie Zapf and her colleagues named June 6, 2017 as "FIRST FTC World Championship Robotics 4216 Rise of Hephaestus Day" in San Diego.