By DE Editors
On April 17-19, the 2008 FIRST Robotics Competition Championship (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) will take place in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome, attracting more than 20,000 spectators. Over 37,000 students from around the world and from 41 regional competitions get together with technology professionals and engineers to try their hand at solving engineering challenges by designing, building and testing robots.
The competition is one way in which technologists and engineers come together to encourage students’ interest in the sciences and technology to groom the next generation of professionals in the engineering and technology fields. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, job opportunities in the fields of science and engineering will grow more rapidly than jobs in general (26% versus 15% overall) through to 2012. Europe and Asia now surpass the U.S. in its number of engineering graduates by three to five times. An additional challenge is the fact that U.S. students’ test scores in science rank only 12th among developed nations.
Autodesk has donated $17 million in professional software and mentoring resources to the FIRST Robotics Competition taking place in Atlanta this weekend. Over the course of 17 years of supporting the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), Autodesk has provided students more than $100 million in mentoring resources and advanced design and engineering software, including Autodesk Inventor, 3ds Max and Autodesk Combustion.
A Brandeis University study(4) compared FIRST student participants to their counterparts not involved in FIRST, finding:
- FIRST students are more than three times as likely to major specifically in engineering;
- More than twice as likely to pursue a career in science and technology;
- Nearly four times as likely to pursue a career specifically in engineering;
- More than twice as likely to volunteer in their communities
Founder of FIRST, Dean Kamen, has had the goal “to create a world where science and technology are celebrated…where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes.”
In a world where science can take a back seat to sports heroes as far as glamour goes, this is a vast challenge. Preparation for competitions can take up to six weeks and include deadlines, timelines and teamwork in a supercharged, exciting environment of working toward design excellence, professionalism and the ability to surmount challenges.
Autodesk gives students a grant of Autodesk Inventor software, and offers team members custom training materials on how to build robots using Inventor, with access to various online tutorials, and other resources. Students can also receive hands-on training at a reduced rate. Many volunteers contribute their time and energy to helping students, conducting training, judging the designs for the competition and providing support.
A number of FIRST competition participants have gone on to win scholarships to prestigious universities and to major in science and technology, further securing a future in these promising fields.
For more information, please visit Autodesk FIRSTbase.
To learn more, go to FIRST.
Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.