The FIRST FRC program reaches more than 54,000 high-school students who participate on over 3,100 teams competing in 105 regional competitions and district events. Not only can FIRST FRC teams be found in almost every U.S. State, they can also be found world-wide, originating from such countries as Canada, Australia, Mexico, Israel, and Turkey.
FRC in Illinois has a rich history and tradition. The first local team was formed 20 years ago, while two teams have just celebrated their 17th year, and an additional three have passed the 10-year mark. One of our teams is in the FRC Hall of Fame, one has been honored at the White House Science Fair, several have participated in the Museum of Science and Industry’s National Robotics Week, and many have been featured on newscasts and in the newspapers. Every spring Chicago’s UIC Pavilion is home to the Midwest Regional Competition and Bradley University hosts the Central Illinois Regional in intense three-day events that have become known as some of the most competitive Regionals in the country.
The FRC program in Illinois is continually growing. In 2012, the program experienced close to a 25% increase in the number of FRC teams, bringing the total number of teams to sixty-one.
The FRC program helps young people discover the excitement and rewards of science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life-skills which are the cornerstones of FIRST. Every January brings a new season’s game challenge to be solved. Students brainstorm to devise and design innovative, effective solutions while volunteer professional mentors often find they rediscover the joys of their chosen profession.
Coopertition© is founded on the concept and philosophy that teams can and should help and cooperate with each other even in the face of fierce competition. It involves assisting and enabling others when you can, learning from mentors, teammates and other teams. Coopertition© is also a key element of the game challenge as the robots must work together to earn points by jointly completing a specific task.
With Gracious Professionalism©, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. FRC students compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. Gracious Professionalism© is the ethos of FIRST and is one of the things that make the FRC experience extraordinary. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended together as students learn the value of being a gracious professional in pursuing a meaningful life.
FRC is about much more than the mechanics of building a robot or winning a competition. Teams participate in a variety of community activities from service projects to demonstrations, mentoring younger students, and designing and building special projects for improving the quality of people’s lives. The Chairman’s Award is the highest award a team can win, and its criteria emphasizes to students the importance of changing the culture in positive ways, and becoming responsible members of the community.