FIRST Robotics Competition brings nearly 1,300 high school students to Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Some of the most intelligent young minds from around the world showed off their mechanical, technical and entrepreneurial skills during the first day of robotics competition on Friday. Once again, the robotics teams made their way to Rocket City for the FIRST Robotics Competition "Rocket City Regional."

This is an exciting day for the Bob Jones-James Clemens Robotics Team.

"You're in a time crunch but you don't realize it," member Bryce Brown said. "You just have a lot of fun while you're building it."

Brown's team and the 50 other robotics teams worked nearly every day for six weeks in preparation of the competition.

"It's taken a lot of work and a lot of time, but I will tell you, they are not short on innovation, on motivation and on energy," NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Deputy Director Jody Singer said. "They are ready to go."

The NASA-sponsored event pits teams of high school students together to build a robot which will compete in a game.

"We found that the best method to win the game, to get points and to succeed is to grab gears which is what this mechanism does, it rotates up," Brown said while showing off his team's robot.

The "FIRST STEAMWORKS" game called for teams to prepare an ancient era airship for travel.

"We're going to try and retrieve these gears and we're going to pick them up and we want to put them onto a peg which our human player will then pull up onto the air ship. It will take it and it will put it on a propeller which will then start turning a propeller which gives us 50 points."

Around 1,300 high school students, showing off their skills, who NASA could call on to build our future someday.

"We've gotta go forward and we need great minds and innovators to do it," Singer said.

Qualifying matches continue on Saturday at the VBC, starting at 9:00 a.m. Saturday's award ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, with hands-on educational activities provided by sponsors and exhibitors.

The 'FIRST' -- "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology" -- Robotics Competition is a worldwide program for students in grades 9-12 designed to inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue careers in the "STEM" fields of science, technology, engineering and math.