FIRST® Hosts 20,000+ Students at World’s Largest Robotics Competition, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, NASA Administrator Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, and Top Inventors Celebrate Student Achievements in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math During FIRST Championship in St. Louis

Championship Presenting Sponsor Qualcomm Incorporated and Dean Kamen Cheered on Young Innovators from 42 Countries as their Robots Competed at Annual Robotics Event

This week, more than 20,000 students from around the globe traveled to St. Louis, putting their engineering skills to the test at the annual FIRST® Championship. (Photo: Business Wire)

ST. LOUIS--()--This week, more than 20,000 students from around the globe traveled to St. Louis, putting their engineering skills to the test at the annual FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship, held at various venues throughout the city.

The four-day event came down to a heart-pounding conclusion Saturday night in front of a roaring crowd of more than 40,000 when four teams from Hermosa Beach, California; Tremont, Illinois; Cleveland, Ohio; and Glen Allen, Virginia of the Carver Subdivision won the coveted FIRST Robotics Competition Championship Winning Alliance. In this year’s game, FIRST STRONGHOLDSM, Alliances worked together to breach their opponents’ fortifications, weaken their tower, and capture the opposing tower. Robots scored points by breaching opponents’ defenses and tossing boulders through goals in the opposing tower. During the final 20 seconds of the match, robots were allowed to surround and scale the opposing tower to capture it.

In all, over 20,000 students, ages 6 to 18, participated in FIRST Championship events in St. Louis.

Selected Quotes:

  • FIRST Founder Dean Kamen urged students to use their imagination to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges: We believe that if you can show kids that the tools of mathematics and engineering empower them to do some really cool, really fun things, they’ll get passionate about it.
  • Colin Gillespie, President, LEGO® Education North America, said: Research shows we’re significantly more creative when we’re 5 years old than we are when we’re 25, but you can keep your creativity alive with playful learning experiences like those you get through FIRST. You’re rekindling that awesome creativity and can see the world in ways (we) can only hope to imagine.
  • NASA Administrator Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden said: I can’t stress how important it is to have young people like each of you pursuing STEM. You and your Mentors have demonstrated that it can be a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun. It’s important work that can make a real difference to the world’s future.

Among the participants from around the globe, many earned honors for design excellence, competitive play, research, business plans, website design, teamwork, and partnerships. A not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST inspires young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.

In St. Louis, more than 900 teams from 42 countries competed in the four FIRST programs: FIRST® LEGO® League (grades 4 to 8, 9 to 14-year-olds in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico; 9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S., Canada, and Mexico); FIRST® Tech Challenge (grades 7 to 12, 12 to 18-year-olds); and FIRST® Robotics Competition (grades 9 to 12, ages 14 to 18). In addition to the high-energy robotics matches, 60 teams of 6 to 9-year-olds participated in the FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. (grades K-3, ages 6-9), World Festival Expo.

The Bart Kamen Memorial FIRST Scholarships were given to:

  • Ryan Bigej, FIRST Tech Challenge Team 9123, Mechanicougs, Hubbard, OR
  • Jameson Kief, FIRST Robotics Competition Team 4557, The FullMetal Falcons, Plantsville, CT
  • Miranda Rector, FIRST Tech Challenge Team 3493, Venice Technomatics, Los Angeles, CA
  • Maya Varma, FIRST Tech Challenge Team 5917, Arcrobots, and FIRST Robotics Competition Team 2135, Presentation Invasion, Cupertino, CA

The FIRST Championship honored significant supporters of the FIRST mission:

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was the recipient of 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.
  • Eric Stokely, Mentor, Team 360; Fieldhouse Supervisor, FIRST Washington; and former FIRST Tech Challenge Affiliate Partner; from Belfair, WA, was the recipient of the Woodie Flowers Award, founded by Dr. William P. Murphy Jr. to recognize an outstanding engineer or teacher who best demonstrates teaching excellence in teaching science, math, and creative design.
  • Walt Disney Imagineering was the recipient of the Make It Loud Award, presented by, given to the person who has contributed the most in increasing the awareness of FIRST to the general public.
  • Maya Varma of FIRST Tech Challenge Team 5917, Acrobats, and FIRST Robotics Competition Team 2135, Presentation Innovation, from Cupertino, CA, received the FIRST Future Innovator Award sponsored by the Abbott Fund for her Smartphone-Based System for Diagnosis and Management of Pulmonary Illnesses.

2016 FIRST Championship Winners

The 2016 winners of the competitions are as follows:

Winners of the Dean’s List Award included:

From FIRST Robotics Competition:

  • Brenden Barbour, Team 3284, Camdenton 4-H LASER, Camdenton, MO;
  • Zarya DeSouza, Team 3494, Quadrangles, Bloomington, IN;
  • Chenelle Foster, Team 5830, The Irrational Engineers, Lanham, MD;
  • Mitchel Huang, Team 503, Frog Force, Novi, MI;
  • Shikhar Jagadeesh, Team 846, The Funky Monkeys, San Jose, CA;
  • Shanatanu Jakhete, Team 180, S.P.A.M., Stuart, FL;
  • Brandon John, Team 3061, Huskie Robotics, Naperville, IL;
  • Autumn Luna, Team 3250, Kennedy Robotics, Sacramento, CA;
  • Shaqeeb Momen, Team 1241, THEORY6, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada;
  • Jessa Westheimer, Team 118, Robonauts, League City, TX

From FIRST Tech Challenge:

  • Andrew Dornbier, Team 7220, The Block Heads, Garner, IA;
  • Colleen Johnson, Team 3595, Schrödinger’s Hat, Fairbanks, AK;
  • Luz Moreno, Team 9547, Panthers, San Antonio, TX;
  • Juwon Packer, Team 4886, RoboJunkies, Midland, TX;
  • Knut Peterson, Team 7129, Robo Raiders,Troy, IL;
  • Anshuman Radhakrishnan, Team 4855, Batteries in Black, Portland, OR;
  • Sanjna Ravichandar, Team 6037, W.A.G.S., Princeton Junction, NJ;
  • David Sargent, Team 5395, Team Clutch, Mustang, OK;
  • Phoebe Spear, Team 6081, i2robotics, Westport, CT;
  • Anika Yardi, Team 8121, RMageddon, Rockville, MD

1. FIRST® Robotics Competition Championship FIRST Robotics Competition combines sports excitement with the rigors of 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 perform tasks against competitors.

Approximately 78,500 students on 3,140 teams from 24 countries competed during the 2016 season.

  • The Winning Alliance of the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship was Team 330, The Beach Bots, Hermosa Beach, CA; Team 2481, Roboteers, Tremont, IL; Team 120, Cleveland's Team, Cleveland, OH; and Team 1086, Blue Cheese, Glen Allen, VA of the Carver Subdivision.
  • Team 987 HIGHROLLERS, Las Vegas, NV, 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.

Other FIRST Robotics Competition Awards included:

  • Engineering Inspiration Award
    • Archimedes-Tesla Division: Team 3211 The Y Team, Yeruham D, Israel
    • Curie-Carver Division: Team 3990 Tech for Kids, Montreal, QC, Canada
    • Galileo-Carson Division: Team 2468 Team Appreciate, Austin TX
    • Newton-Hopper Division: Team 1676 The Pascack PI-oneers, Montvale, NJ
  • Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award
    • Jessica Boucher, FIRST Robotics Competition Chief Volunteer Coordinator

Championship Finalists

Tesla Subdivision

  • Team 2056, OP Robotics, Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada
  • Team 1690, Orbit, Binyamina, HaZafon, Israel
  • Team 3015, Ranger Robotics, Spencerport, NY
  • Team 1405, Finney Falcons, Penfield, NY

2. 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. This year’s game, FIRST® RES-QSM, is modeled after rescue situations faced by mountain explorers. Two Alliances with two robots each score by “resetting” rescue beacons, delivering rescue climbers to a shelter, parking on the mountain, and parking in the rescue beacon repair zone or floor goal.

Approximately 51,500 students on 5,158 FIRST Tech Challenge teams competed during the 2015/2016 season. The 2015/2016 FIRST Tech Challenge Sponsors include Official Program Sponsor, Rockwell Collins; Official IoT, CAD & Collaboration Software Sponsor, PTC; and Official Control System Sponsor, Qualcomm.

The FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship Inspire Award, recognizing excellence in robot design and teamwork, went to Team 7013 Hot Wired from Portland Oregon. The Winning Alliance was Team 5916, BoBots, Earleville, MD; Team 8221, CUBIX^3, Hampstead, MD; Team 6022, TBD-To Be Determined, Aurora, Ohio.

The FIRST Tech Challenge Volunteer of the Year Award winner was Mannie Lowe of Mississippi. The Compass Award for excellence in coaching/mentoring was awarded to David Patterson. He was nominated for this award by Team 3595, Schrödinger’s Hat, of Fairbanks, Alaska.

3. FIRST® LEGO® League World FestivalFIRST LEGO League introduces younger students to real-world engineering challenges by conducting research projects and building 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, TRASH TREKSM engaged 233,000+ kids on approximately 29,000 teams to explore the hidden world of trash, from collecting to sorting to smart production and reuse.

Top honors went to Champion’s Award 1st Place winner, Team 23, The Incredibots, Columbus, Ohio; Champion’s Award Finalist, Team 22993, Mechatronic Ants, Pamplona, Spain; and Champion’s Award Finalist, Team 23005, Tic Tac Toe, Beirut, Lebanon

4. FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. World Festival Expo FIRST LEGO League Jr. introduces children ages 6 to 9 to the exciting worlds 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 FIRST LEGO League Jr. Challenge, WASTE WISESM, students learned that throwing something in the trash is only the beginning. From reducing, to reusing, to recycling, and beyond, teams found out what making trash really means.

For a full list of FIRST Championship winners and awards, visit

2016 FIRST Championship Sponsors

Qualcomm is the 2016 FIRST Championship Presenting Sponsor.

2016 FIRST Champion Program Sponsors include: The Boeing Company; BOSCH; Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD); FedEx Corporation; Google; IBM; Monsanto; NRG Energy; U.S. Air Force; United Technologies Corporation (UTC).

Other 2016 FIRST Championship Sponsors include: Abbott Fund; BAE Systems; Bechtel Corporation; Booz Allen Hamilton; The Coca-Cola Company; Comcast NBCUniversal; CSC Charitable Foundation; DaDaLeLe; Dr. William H. Danforth; Dice; The Dow Chemical Company; Edward Jones; General Electric Company; Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark; Microsoft Corporation; Mouser Electronics; Nidec Motor Corporation; NVIDIA Corporation; Southwest Airlines; SpaceX; St. Louis Regional Chamber; St. Louis Union Station Hotel; UL; Vulcan Spring & Mfg. Co.

Save the date! The FIRST Championship will be held in:
Houston April 19-22, 2017 and St. Louis April 26-29, 2017 | Houston April 18-21, 2018 and Detroit April 25-28, 2018

About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $25 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to

FIRST and the FIRST logo are registered trademarks of the United States Foundation For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). LEGO® is a registered trademark of The LEGO Group.


Brooke Blew, 603-206-2048
Haley Dunn, 603-206-2494

Release Summary

This week, more than 20,000 students from around the globe traveled to St. Louis, putting their engineering skills to the test at the annual FIRST® Championship.


Brooke Blew, 603-206-2048
Haley Dunn, 603-206-2494