Innovation on display at 30th FIRST Robotics Silicon Valley competition

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- More than 50 of high school robotics teams from across the country and the world will come together for one of the biggest robot competitions around and it's all open to the public.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology.

For the 30th year, FIRST is hosting their Silicon Valley Regional at the San Jose State Event Center.

But, it's not just about watching robots fight.



"Most people think of robot competitions as battling. We aren't battling. We aren't trying to tear each other a part. We're really trying to get teams to work together," said FIRST Robotics Regional Director Theresa Bateman.

This is one of more than 100 competitions FIRST hosts yearly.

For many of these teams, this local contest is their chance to compete in front of their family and friends.

"This is our home regional," Mountain View Girl Scout Troop team member Lili said. "It's nice to be here one last time for me. I was a competitive figure skater so pressure and competitive math is easy for me. The pressure isn't too much, I just find this fun.

Friday showcased the practice rounds of the competition, with the tournament officially beginning Saturday, March 30 with the championships Sunday, March 31.

The competitors had six weeks to build their robot.

They will now work with and compete against other teams in the competition through a process FIRST Robotics calls "coopertition".

The robots work to try and navigate through the deep space field to score points for their teams.

This is the culmination of hours and hours of hard work.

"Everyone has put so much work into it day-in and day-out," Gateway High School robotics member Ramesses Moline said. "Even when we don't have days of work we still talk about it."

These student competitors all come from across the globe to the heart of the tech capital of the world to compete alongside some of the future's best.

There are teams from California, Minnesota, Turkey and China.

It is an opportunity that the students are very thankful for.

"It's always so great to see what they've done in their countries. They always approach problems from a different way," Notre Dame High School robotics member KK Kumar said. "While there is a language barrier sometimes, we're still able to communicate. It's a cool cultural exchange here."

"It's a really cool experience because I would have never been able to meet these people," Prospect High School robotics member Kyle Schumacher said. "They have all new personalities and their culture is similar. It's very cool to meet them and help them out while they help out us."

30 years ago the regional found its way to San Jose.

FIRST Robotics hopes for many more years of success for such an important competition.

"Every year we get new students that join the team. You may get new mentors or new sponsors. You build new skills and you market yourself and your teammates for more grants and more tools. It truly is a tech start-up every year and every season for us," Bateman said."

Bateman hopes to have hundreds in attendance for the competition this weekend that begins daily at 8:30 a.m.

If you want to attend this free event or learn more about what FIRST Robotics is doing, you can see that here.

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