FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is recognized as the premier high school engineering challenge. Teams of students, working closely with teachers and volunteer mentors, have six weeks to conceptualize, design, build, program, modify and test a robot to participate in a competition that changes each year. Every January, FIRST unveils the challenge or “game” at an annual kick-off event that is simulcast to locations around the world.

Teams receive a kit of common parts that are used to build the core systems of their robots, but they won’t find an instruction manual. No two robots will be built or operated in exactly the same way! Students work with hundreds of components, including engineering mainstays such as programmable radio controllers, motors, electrical circuitry, pneumatic components and mechanical parts. Each team has to decide its own game strategy, and has to design and fabricate a machine within tight specifications on size, weight and materials.

Following the six-week design and build phase, teams enter two of seven District competitions in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. Teams compete for scores that will earn them a place at the FIRST Chesapeake District Championship. (Winners from FIRST Chesapeake will compete at the FIRST World Championship in Detroit.)