FIRST® Global Challenge Unites 160+ Nations in Mexico City to Inspire Next Generation of Innovators and Future World Leaders

Ricardo Salinas Hosts Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and High School Students From Around the World for International Robotics Event

MEXICO CITY--()--FIRST® Global, a not-for-profit organization established to promote science and technology leadership and innovation in young people from all nations through the sport of robotics, brought together students from more than 160 nations last week at Arena Ciudad de Mexico for the FIRST Global Challenge, a high-profile, international robotics competition convening high-school-aged participants who work together to solve global challenges.

Ricardo Salinas, chairman of Grupo Salinas, founding member of FIRST Global, and chairman and host of the 2018 FIRST Global Challenge in Mexico City, recognized the passion of the young competitors in creating and driving robots. "This is the best demonstration that this world can become a better world if we all work together," he said.

The focus of the 2018 FIRST Global Challenge was “Energy Impact,” in which shifting alliances of three nations competed to fuel power plants, initiate renewable energy plans and build a resilient transmission network in a simulated exercise using robots. The event highlighted the importance of various energy sources and making them more sustainable, excited students to learn and discover STEM through robotics, and inspired students and adults alike on the importance of collaborating across places of origin, creeds, religions, and races to build a better tomorrow.

This competition inspires not only those who participate, but also many more from the teams’ home countries. The inaugural FIRST Global Challenge was held last year with 157 nations. It’s based on the principles of FIRST, a K-12 STEM education nonprofit founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989.

“I’ve learned through FIRST that if we teach the world’s young people the common language of STEM, they’ll learn how to work together across cultural and religious differences,” said Dean Kamen, president of DEKA Research & Development and founder of FIRST and FIRST Global. “Through the excitement of an Olympic-style sporting event, the FIRST Global Challenge is uniting students around the world to solve the greatest problems we face as a global community.”

Official sponsors of the 2018 FIRST Global Challenge include: Bezos Family Foundation, TE Connectivity Foundation, Qualcomm Incorporated, Royalty Pharma/Alianzia AMZA, DeKa Foundation, Intel, Shell, Baker Hughes GE, FedEx, Tec de Monterrey, and MexiChem.

"At the TE Connectivity Foundation, we believe that building strong communities and increasing access to education and careers in engineering and technology helps create a sustainable global workforce and meaningful work opportunities for all,” Kathleen Ambrose, vice president global government affairs and corporate responsibility for TE Connectivity and executive director for TE Connectivity Foundation. “FIRST Global fulfills that goal and takes it a step further, focusing the championship challenges in Mexico City on solving a social problem. The students we met have overwhelmed us with their commitment and brilliance, and we could not be happier to see our Foundation mission come to life in this significant event.”

“Qualcomm is proud to support FIRST Global and the amazing student participants from around the world,” said Salvador Blasco, vice president, business development, for Qualcomm Incorporated and general manager of the Mexico office. “This is especially important in places where Qualcomm operates and does business as a way to engage with young talent and give back to the community.”

FIRST Global is a driving force in educational innovation, aspiring to reach youth, whatever their background and wherever they live, who share the dream of invention,” said Harry Elsinga, chief human resources officer for Baker Hughes, a GE company. “As a global company committed to inventing smarter ways to bring energy to the world, we are proud to support the organization by way of The Baker Hughes Foundation and through student mentorships in locations around the world, inspiring and nurturing interest in STEM education and careers to develop the next generation of innovators, changemakers and leaders equipped to solve global challenges.”

This year’s games concluded with exciting final championship matches and an award ceremony, during which teams were awarded medals in several categories – both qualitative and quantitative in nature – highlighting the qualities that FIRST Global aims to inspire in the STEM leaders of tomorrow. The winners (listed below) for the qualitative awards were selected by a group of internationally selected judges.

1. FIRST Global Winning Alliance Award
Awarded to the three teams in the winning alliance in the final match
a. Winning Alliance: Romania, Singapore, Germany

2. FIRST Global Finalist Alliances Award
Awarded to the three-team alliance who placed second in the final match and the winning alliance in the third-place match
a. Runner-up: Maldives, Iceland, Colombia
b. Second Runner Up: United Kingdom, Georgia, Qatar

3. FIRST Global Challenge Award
Awarded to teams that earn the most ranking points (based on win-lose-tie record)
a. Gold: Romania
b. Silver: United States of America
c. Bronze: Singapore

4. FIRST Global Grand Challenge Award
Awarded to teams that accrue the most cumulative points over the course of the competition
a. Gold: Romania
b. Silver: Singapore
c. Bronze: Moldova

5. Zhang Heng Award for Engineering Design
Awarded to teams whose robot exhibits excellent engineering and displays elegance and effectiveness during the Challenge
a. Gold: United States of America
b. Silver: Honduras
c. Bronze: Vietnam

6. Ustad Ahmad Lahori Award for Innovation in Engineering
Awarded to teams that demonstrate creativity and innovation in building their robot to complete an aspect of the Challenge
a. Gold: Norway
b. Silver: Italy
c. Bronze: Turkey

7. Dr. Mae Jemison Award for International Unity
Awarded to teams that emulate the best qualities of FIRST Global by breaking down barriers, demonstrating Gracious Professionalism, and building bridges with fellow teams
a. Gold: Tunisia
b. Silver: Latvia
c. Bronze: Israel

8. Rajaâ Cherkaoui El Moursli Award for Courageous Achievement
Awarded to teams that exhibit a “can-do” attitude throughout the Challenge, even under difficult circumstances, or when things do not go as planned
a. Gold: Hope
b. Silver: Venezuela
c. Bronze: Zimbabwe
Francisco José de Caldas Award for Sustainable Excellence
Awarded to an individual who helped contribute to strong and sustainable FIRST Global programs
d. Gold: Barbara Gomez Navarro
e. Silver: Omar Hussein
f. Bronze: Bibia Sharma

9. Al-Khwarizmi Award for Outstanding Supporter
Awarded to institutions, sponsors, or governments that assisted a FIRST Global team
a. Gold: Mexico
b. Silver: Uruguay
c. Bronze: Nigeria

10. Sofia Kovalevskaya Award for International Journey
Awarded to teams that documented and shared their FIRST Global experience with the rest of the FIRST Global community
a. Gold: Turkmenistan
b. Silver: Algeria
c. Bronze: Nigeria

11. Albert Einstein Award for FIRST Global International Excellence
Awarded to the teams whose robots performed the best during the FIRST Global Challenge and exemplified all the tenets of the FIRST Global community
a. Gold: Romania
b. Silver: Mexico
c. Bronze: Poland

12. Clara Barton Award for Helping Hands
Awarded to teams who help other teams in a time of need.
a. Gold: India
b. Silver: China
c. Bronze: Guam

13. Katherine Johnson Award for Engineering Documentation
Awarded to teams that demonstrate the journey they took in building their robot
a. Gold: Germany
b. Silver: Albania
c. Bronze: Peru

14. International Enthusiasm Award
Awarded to teams who support each other and other teams throughout the Challenge
a. Gold: Netherlands
b. Silver: Philippines
c. Bronze: Malaysia

15. Mansa Musa Award for Fundraising
Awarded to teams who demonstrated to FIRST Global that they made a good-faith effort to fundraise
1. Chile
2. Iceland
3. United States of America
4. India
5. Tunisia
6. Slovenia
7. Trinidad and Tobago
8. Venezuela
9. New Zealand
10. Cameroon

16. Walt Disney Award for Imagination and Creativity
1. South Africa
2. Australia
3. Indonesia

17. Judges Award - Technical
During the course of the competition, the judging panel may decide a team’s unique efforts, performance or dynamics merit recognition.
1. Slovakia
2. Ireland
3. Sri Lanka

18. Judges Award - Non-technical
During the course of the competition, the judging panel may decide a team’s unique efforts, performance or dynamics merit recognition.
1. Nicaragua
2. Guatemala
3. Central African Republic

19. Outstanding Mentor
Awarded to mentors who went above and beyond the call of duty for their team.
1. Benin
2. Team Africa
3. Tunisia
4. Morocco
5. Jamaica
6. Brazil

In keeping with FIRST Global’s mission to inspire science and technology leadership and innovation internationally, the FIRST Global Challenge will take place in a different nation each year. The organization wants to empower all young people through science and technology and is working earnestly to recruit teams from countries that could not accompany us this year.

About FIRST Global
FIRST Global’s mission is to inspire science and technology leadership and innovation in young people from all nations in order to increase understanding, instill the importance of cooperation, address the world’s most pressing issues, and improve the quality of life for all. By showing the youth of the world that if they communicate, cooperate, and work together – even in a competition – using the tools of science and engineering to find solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, they will be able to accomplish great things and become part of a truly global community. For more information, visit FIRST Global’s website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages.


Anisha Hindocha

Release Summary

FIRST Global brought together students from more than 160 nations in Mexico City last week for a high-profile, international robotics competition.


Anisha Hindocha