[Left] Katherine Allen pictured with a FIRST student from Hornsby High School. Photo: Chris Stacey.
[Left] Katherine Allen pictured with a FIRST student from Hornsby High School. Photo: Chris Stacey.

FIRST… let me build a robot

From next Thursday 17 March, more than 1000 high school students from around Australia, the United States, Singapore, Taiwan, China, and India will compete in the annual FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Regional at Sydney Olympic Park.

The event will see 35 student teams unleash their robots (which they’ve designed, built, and programmed themselves) onto a medieval-themed playing field which challenges their robots to catapult boulders and scale obstacles to ‘conquer’ an opponent’s tower.

The day is an exciting demonstration of what the students have been able to achieve – but their skills extend much further than the robots they’ve produced.

At a time when three out of four jobs in the fastest growing industries require science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills, FIRST Australia encourages young people’s curiosity,  develops these fundamental STEM skills and knowledge, and builds on their leadership, self-confidence and teamwork abilities.

As home to FIRST Australia, Macquarie is a proud sponsor of the program, which also places a special interest in engaging people who would not ordinarily have access to this level of mentoring in STEM: females, remotely located students or students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Katherine Allen, a member of Macquarie-based Team 3132 (Thunder Down Under) says she loves that FIRST shows young people from a variety of backgrounds what engineering is, has them work alongside professionals, and allows them to see a future for themselves in the field.

“An exciting thing I have been able to be a part of through FIRST are the programs that we run to encourage more women to be involved in engineering, such as the morning teas that we run at events,” said Katherine.

“As one of the few girls on a team full of boys, it can be really challenging. To be able to support these girls, and provide role models at all stages of their careers is something I am proud to be a part of.”

FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a not-for-profit organisation that runs a suite of robotics programs for school students year round.

The FRC event is free for the public to attend – families and supporters are welcome to come check out the action!

Take a look at some of the high school students involved with the FIRST Team 3132 Thunder Down Under.

Event details
17 – 19 March
Where: Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre, Olympic Boulevard, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW 2127
Cost: Free

Find out more from the FIRST Australia website.