In response to continually increasing interest and participation in FIRST® programs and the annual FIRST Championship, the not-for-profit, international K-12 organization will host two Championship events beginning in 2017.
In 2017, FIRST will host two annual Championship events in St. Louis, MO and in Houston, TX. In 2018 through 2020, the events will be held in Detroit, MI and Houston, TX.
Hosting FIRST Championship events in two cities on sequential weekends will enable increased capacity for FIRST to align with annual team growth and has the added benefit of easier accessibility and lower travel costs for many teams.
FIRST pioneered the use of robotics to inspire students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in 1992. As the world’s largest robotics competition for students, with over 400,000 students participating in four programs spanning K-12, over 17,000 students will participate in the FIRST Championship in St. Louis at the end of April, 2015.
“We are thrilled to expand the Championship experience to thousands more kids who are eager to compete and excel,” said Sheri McCoy, co-chair, FIRST Board of Directors and chief executive officer of Avon Products. “This demand is evidence of a growing cultural shift by students toward interest in science and technology. It’s also evidence of the success of the mission of FIRST to develop the next generation of innovative, skilled problem solvers and leaders.”
Each Championship event will host competitions for all four FIRST robotics programs and is projected to generate as much as $30 million in annual economic impact to the local St. Louis, Houston, and Detroit communities. Starting in 1995, the FIRST Championship has been held in four successive cities, consistently growing in size, and has expanded to a multi-venue event where the one-city approach has been maximized.
St. Louis will continue to host FIRST Championship events in 2015, 2016, and 2017. This year, to accommodate growth, in addition to the Edward Jones Dome and America’s Center, Championship activities will also be held in the Renaissance Grand Hotel and Union Station.
“We’ve seen the impact FIRST has on the future of participants. In fact, nearly 90 percent of FIRST alumni continue on to STEM education or careers,” said Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST. “By hosting two Championship events in separate cities on subsequent weekends, we can double the number of students who can participate in the life-changing experience of a FIRST Championship, while also making the events closer and more accessible to participating teams.”
In Houston starting in 2017, FIRST Championship activities will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Toyota Center, (home of the Houston Rockets) and Minute Maid Park (home of the Houston Astros).
“We are excited to be hosting FIRST in Houston for four years,” said Dawn Ullrich, chief executive officer of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. “As the largest life sciences destination in the world, Houston is a leader in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Houston and FIRST are a great fit and we’re confident participants will have a wonderful experience.”
In Detroit starting in 2018, FIRST Championship activities will be held at Cobo Center and at Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions).
“As a leader in the high-tech and engineering fields, and an incubator for youth innovation, Detroit is a perfect fit for the FIRST Championship and we are eager to welcome them,” said Larry Alexander, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Detroit is a city that prides itself in nurturing and developing young talent and will provide a tremendous backdrop for students inspired by science and technology.”
“As we thank the city of St. Louis for a great experience over the last five years and for the next three years through 2017, this expansion will allow us to continue to elevate the quality and excitement of the FIRST Championship experience for all attendees, including students, parents, Sponsors, and Volunteers,” Bossi said.