2018 Robotics championship gathered young innovators from every corner of the world

Since FIRST was founded in 1989 by a robotics evangelist Dean Kamen and mechanical engineering guru Woodie Flowers, it has been relentless in its efforts to engage young people in the exciting world of robotics. With its missionary attitude, FIRST has become a well-known leader in high school robotics training. The international organization reshaped the very realm of STEM. Amongst other notable achievements, it launched K-12 Progression of Programs for talented kids worldwide. In 2018, the FIRST Championship became a peak of the 7-week season with the final games in Detroit, MI, and Houston, TX.  

2018 FIRST Championship Mapping

FIRST believes the robotics is not a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. Instead, it is a mind-blowing experience available for all youngsters regardless of their location, race, or social position. The intent is to occupy students with the idea of a better future, backed with engineering, which they can easily be involved in.

Within just a couple of months, young innovators have to create a team emblem, launch crowdfunding, leverage their teambuilding qualities, and certainly - build an efficient competitive robot. Students describe this as the most sophisticated fun, one can ever get. A perfect combination of hard intellectual work and entertainment, that ends with the spectacular championship.  

teamwork at 2018 FIRST Robotics Competitions

2018 FIRST Championship teamwork

FIRST Championship with its updated dual-location arrangement was first established in 2017. The main goal was to make the competition as accessible and affordable for as many participants from as many regions as possible. All the partakers, according to their residence, were divided into two location groups in the most balanced way. To distribute members between two host cities, FIRST had to consider multiple nuances. For instance, the gradually increasing size of participating crews, location availability for mentors, travel costs, and more. Besides, the staff faced additional hurdles as more teams had stated their willingness to take part.

As you might remember, in 2017 Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO were the cities who host the events. The FIRST community had keenly analyzed the feedback received during that tournament. They also took into account that host cities selected for the first championship in 2017 were located too close. Based on their colossal work on combining all the location information, they decided to replace St.Louis with Detroit.

The process of the teams' advancing to a particular location group led to another challenge for the FIRST producers. The teams were picked and matched with the two selected cities according to the area of their residence. Hence, the place where the teams had qualified for the competition, wasn’t taken into consideration.

Consequently, in 2018 the cities of Houston, TX and Detroit, MI hosted a tremendous robotics festival. As expected, the relocation to Detroit, MI increased the distance between spots significantly. It allowed more participants within Northern America to improve their transit.


2018 FIRST Championship recap

2018 FIRST Championship adjustments

By 2018, the FIRST had been arranging the games for 29th times already. Although the practice of dual hosts setup remained in a way experimental, the tournament was split between two cities. More importantly, in order to satisfy even more guests, in comparison to the previous year, the games were broken into two stages. As previously many had complained that events in both cities ran at the same.

The first stage took place in Houston, April 18-21, and on the second weekend at the Cobo Center and Ford Field in Detroit, April 25-28. The FIRST producers surprised the guests with unusual fields’ rotation. The game fields were installed as close as possible to boost the morale of the young engineers.

The 2018 geographic assignment map depicts the scope of coverage of the US states, and foreign regions, and countries:

2018 FIRST Championship mapping

Robotics Championship World Map

The countries and regions that had been assigned to St.Louis, MO in 2017 were reassigned to Detroit, MI in 2018. With only two states (Kansas and Missouri) having changed their previous location group. All the partakers from Kansas and Missouri attended the Houston Championship. As we mentioned before, this location update led to an increased distance between host cities. This significantly improved the transit and lowered travel costs, especially for robotics enthusiasts from Northern America, which make up a large majority.

Previously, this rearrangement was applied to FIRST Tech Challenge Super Regional. Again, with the exception of Kansas and Missouri states transferred to the South. The Detroit Championship hosted all the participants, who had qualified in East and North regional games, while Houston - those from West and South, respectively.

Robotics Championship awards ceremonies

2018 FIRST Championship closing celebration

Naturally, the basic idea of the adjustment was to minimize travel costs and transit time for those who attend the Championship. On top of that, there was an option to select a different host city for those teams, who couldn't attend their assigned location. However, for the future FIRST highly recommended all the teams would attend the appointed location.

Each city welcomed more than four hundred robotics teams, more than two hundred tech and Lego senior and junior teams. All in all, more than three thousand teams with about one hundred thousand students celebrating their hard work in the exciting encounters. For those engineer amateurs who reached playoff developing their game-playing robots, it was a long road of tens of regional and district qualifying competitions and championships. Their groundbreaking accomplishments were thoroughly guided by mentors and coaches from up to thirty countries.

Traditionally, FIRST Championship climaxed in a ceremony, which honors all the award-winning teams and students. As a cherry on the cake, in 2018 the winners clashed in the final encounter of the so-called Einstein tournament. To the joy of viewers, the performance was televised on huge screens.


2018 final Einstein tournament for winners

Author: James Jons

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