More than 46,000 Students Worldwide to Build Robots and STEM Skills with FIRST Tech Challenge VELOCITY VORTEXSM Presented by Qualcomm

4,600+ Teams of Students Tackle New Challenge During 2016/17 Season

MANCHESTER, N.H., September 12, 2016 FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international, K-12 not-for-profit organization founded to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, launched its 2016/17 FIRST® Tech Challenge season with an online game reveal on September 10. Teams of students and adult Mentors gathered at 70+ international Kickoff events to get a first glimpse of this season’s game: VELOCITY VORTEXSM Presented by Qualcomm Incorporated. An estimated 46,000 students on 4,600 teams in 17 countries around the world will participate this season.

FIRST Strategic Partner Qualcomm is the Season Presenting Sponsor for the 2016/17 FIRST Tech Challenge. A commitment to teams, via direct funding and time donated by hundreds of Qualcomm employees, helps inspire tens of thousands of FIRST students each year. Qualcomm directly supports events, programs, and thousands of teams globally.

“Qualcomm has been a proud supporter of FIRST for more than ten years, and we are so excited to continue expanding our support of FIRST Tech Challenge,” said Navrina Singh, director of product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.  “Over the past two years, our engineering and product teams have worked very closely with FIRST to reimagine, develop and improve the control system with the latest mobile technologies. And this year, we are thrilled to increase our commitment to the program as the Season Presenting Sponsor of the FIRST Tech Challenge VELOCITY VORTEX season.”

FIRST Tech Challenge is a widely-accessible robotics program for grades 7 through 12 that promotes project-based learning. Using a proven formula to engage student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), FIRST Tech Challenge is one of the fastest-growing programs of its kind.

“The great thing about the FIRST Tech Challenge program is that it is the perfect complement to the classroom,” said FIRST President Donald E. Bossi. “Throughout their journey this season, students will develop a deeper understanding of STEM skills, as well as valuable career and life skills, which is why 200 colleges, universities and other providers make $30 million in scholarships available to FIRST students.”

In the 2016/17 game, VELOCITY VORTEX, teams work in an Alliance to score points against their opponents by placing small balls, called particles, into two different types of vortexes, including a Center Vortex on a rotatable stand in the center of the field. Robots can also light beacons with their Alliance’s color, and in the final 30 seconds of the match, raise a large ball off of the playing field and place the ball in their Center Vortex.

“We’re excited to bring VELOCITY VORTEX to the FIRST community,” said Ken Johnson, Director, FIRST Tech Challenge. “This year, teams can use vision processing and a variety of sensors to really build innovative designs. The capability of the Android operating system coupled with the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor at the heart of the control system means teams have no limit on their creativity.”

Need-based grants supported by Qualcomm and other Sponsors are now available for new and returning FIRST Tech Challenge teams participating in the 2016/17 season. Click here for more information about team grants.

FIRST Tech Challenge Global Sponsors include Official Program Sponsor, Rockwell Collins; Official IoT, CAD, and Collaboration Software Sponsor, PTC; and Season Presenting Sponsor, Qualcomm.

About FIRST® 
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, NH, FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $30 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to

FIRST®, the FIRST® logo, FIRST® Tech Challenge, and VELOCITY VORTEXSM are trademarks of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®). All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2016 FIRST. All rights reserved. 

Qualcomm and Snapdragon are trademarks of Qualcomm Incorporated, registered in the United States and other countries. Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.