FIRST has an apt acronym: "For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology", with FIRST Robotics an internationally acclaimed robotics program that inspires a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths in young people.
The organisation and event was founded in the US in 1989, with FIRST Australia established at Macquarie University in 2006.
Since then, we're told that "FIRST Australia has partnered with schools and universities across Australia with teams and competitions held in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth", and with Australian teams having enjoyed "remarkable success attending the FIRST World Championship Tournament".
Well, it is the flagship competition of FIRST, and is "a large-scale robotics competition, bringing together students and mentors to build robots that perform in a competitive but gracious environment against teams from all over the world".
We're told that "in building their robot and doing all the other things that go with an FIRST Robotics Competition team, students learn valuable life skills like teamwork, collaboration, public speaking, technical science and engineering skills, Gracious Professionalism, and others.
"In Australia, FIRST Robotics Competition teams compete at the Duel Down Under off-season events or official Regional competitions in Sydney or the USA".
In addition, the "FIRST Robotics Competition is a robotics competition, not a robot-fighting contest (as everyone asks).
"FIRST Robotics Competition games are designed to be like team sports, and robots are not supposed to be intentionally harmed.
"FIRST Robotics Competition teams are guided by solid principles of teamwork, graciousness, cooperation, camaraderie and professionalism. The game is always as safe as can be ensured, and students are encouraged to be as friendly with other teams as they are with their own.
"Worldwide there are 32,600 teams made up of 350,000+ students from nearly 80 countries. 64,000+ Mentors and 66,000+ event Volunteers and Affiliate Partners donate their time to make FIRST possible".
The organisation's PR people invited iTWire to speak to Flores, the Global STEM ambassador for Rockwell Automation, one of the sponsors of FIRST Robotics, who attended last week's events and was a keynote speaker.
At his site, Jay explains that "the power of STEM can help young girls and boys become super heroes, solve big (and little) problems and contribute their best ideas to improve our planet.
"As a Global STEM Ambassador, Jay knows just how important STEM is to the future of the world. He’s spreading the word through his energising presentations and outreach to schools, community groups and industry experts. As a keynote speaker, Jay is masterful in connecting STEM to everyday life and motivating students to become tomorrow’s innovators."
Here's my video interview with Jay:
Here's a summary of the questions posed, along with Jay's two TED X talks, and some official videos from FIRST Robotics:
I start by introducing and welcoming Flores and asked him to tell us about the FIRST Robotocs competition and what transpired last week.
We then spoke about Rockwell Automation, and its involvement with the event.
Then we noted that Flores is the global STEM Ambassador for Rockwell Automation, we asked Jay about his role and what he does around the world to engage young people and to promote science, technology, engineering and maths, as well as asking about STEAM, where the A stands for arts.
I asked Flores about his two TED talks, which are embedded below.
I then concluded with my usual three questions about the future, great advice and final messages, asking Flores how he sees STEM studies evolving over the next decade, along with Rockwell Automation's technologies and the robotics competition.
We then went onto great advice Flores has received in life to help him get where he is today, followed by his "final message to iTWire viewers and readers, to STEM teachers and students, the robot builders of today and tomorrow, and the AI that will one day see conscious robots come to life".
Here are Jay's two TED X talks:
Here is the Official First YouTube channel.
Here is the video from the First Robotics About Us page (from 2015):
Kids, Robots and a Passion for Science video from 2015 featuring Australian students: