Robotics begins with changes

A robotics kickoff event, which took place Saturday, Jan. 9, was the start of a season that matches high school robotics teams against each other for a chance to represent Indiana in national and international competitions.

This science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) based robotics program is designed to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting sports like mentor based programs that build STEM skills.

The Saturday, Jan. 9 kickoff marked the beginning of the design and build season. Currently, 58 registered FRC teams will be competing in the state of Indiana. One of the 58 teams includes team no. 1501, the Huntington County 4-H Fair Robotics team. The team is known as Team THRUST. Their website is huntingtonrobot ics.org.

Due to the pandemic there will be multiple changes to this year’s program.

Mary Baker, director of customer service and marketing at AndyMark, Inc. in Kokomo said, “The year 2020 did not turn out like anyone had planned. Because it seemed like it was one disappointment after another, it would have been easy to just give up. But that's not the FIRST spirit. Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic we saw many FIRST teams making PPE and donating items to those on the front lines and most in need. That was inspiring! So on a positive note we say goodbye to 2020, and look forward to what we can accomplish in 2021.”

Through the FIRST Innovation Challenge student robotic teams participating in the FIRST Robotics Competition programs during the 2020-21 season will have the opportunity to explore what it means to be an innovator and find solutions to society's greatest challenges. Teams will identify a problem or opportunity in connection with the season's sports-and-fitness theme, design a solution, create a business model and pitch and advance their skills by using technology as part of the process.

Last season, FIRST programs reached more than 679,000 students in over 100 countries. As a global organization that teaches young people how to solve problems and innovate, FIRST is committed to doing the same to ensure its participants can stay engaged with FIRST programs this season through new and adapted remote programming such as the FIRST Innovation Challenge.