Largest regional competition drives inclusion among teenagers in an area with great socio-economic divide, powered by Arm and Qualcomm Incorporated
10 February 2020: Robots built by students in the South East of England competed yesterday at FIRST® Tech Challenge UK’s regional tournament at the IWM Duxford in Cambridge. The winning teams will now progress to London’s Copper Box Arena in March where they will compete to represent the UK in the world championships in May, held in the USA, alongside 40,000 young people from 100 countries.
The list of teams that secured a spot in the national championship include:
Ed Cervantes-Watson, CEO at FIRST Tech Challenge UK, said:
“It’s inspiring to witness the progress young people from across the South East have made designing and building robots – operating like business teams, deploying game strategies. This is more than robots – it’s about connecting young people with role models from industry and bridging the gap between the classroom and the workplace of tomorrow.”
FIRST UK is more than a tech education charity. While the programme aims to make STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) less intimidating and more inclusive, it is also connecting young people with industry, providing new role models and teaching vital skills. Through the programme young people work on their soft skills – such as problem solving, working and collaborating with others, and building confidence and resilience.
Meeting weekly from September until March, teams of up to 15 young people aged 12 to 18 design, build and programme a robot to take on a global challenge with support from an industry mentor. FIRST UK has worked alongside industry to co-create content linked to the curriculum that gets young people thinking and operating like a business team, adopting roles found in the workplace.
FIRST UK is backed by businesses keen to bridge the gap between education and industry, building an inclusive talent pipeline equipped with the skills needed for tomorrow’s jobs – the South East tournament is in collaboration with Arm and Qualcomm Incorporated. It is estimated that the shortage of STEM skills in the UK is costing businesses £1.5 billion a year as they struggle to hire, train and retain talent. Research from 2018 shows that there’s a shortfall of over 173,000 workers in STEM in the UK.
James Chapman, VP & GM, Voice/Music/Wearables at Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd, commented:
“Qualcomm is a proud supporter of the FIRST Tech Challenge. It is vital that the industry engages with, and enthuses, the next generation of engineering talent and the FIRST Tech Challenge is a powerful way to do that. I am incredibly impressed by the quality of entries and am encouraged to see so many young people enthused about STEM.”
Kirsty Gill, Chief People Officer at Arm, commented:
“It was refreshing to see these young people compete in the regional tournament in Cambridge. The level of engagement and the energy in the room left me in awe of how invested and passionate these students are about robotics. As I watched one of these robots career around the field I was sure these kids will be designing the autonomous vehicle I’ll be sitting in the future.”
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You can follow all competition activity live with the hashtag #MoreThanRobotsUK on Twitter and Instagram. If you’re up for volunteering like some of our epic Game Changers, sign up to our national championship taking place 27-28 March 2020.
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