FIRST Inspires 78,000 Students Worldwide to Reach New Heights with FIRST Tech Challenge SKYSTONE Presented by Qualcomm

More than 7,800 Teams of Students Tackle New Challenge Focused on Developing Sustainable Cities During 2019-2020 Season

MANCHESTER, N.H., September 7, 2019FIRST®, a robotics community that prepares young people for the future, launched its 2019-2020 FIRST® Tech Challenge season with an online game reveal on September 7. Teams of students and adult mentors gathered at more than 100 international Kickoff events to get a first glimpse of this season’s game, which focuses on building cities of the future: SKYSTONE presented by Qualcomm. An estimated 78,000 students in more than 20 countries around the world will participate this season.  

FIRST Strategic Partner Qualcomm Incorporated returns as the Season Presenting Sponsor for the 2019-2020 FIRST Tech Challenge season. During the SKYSTONE season, Qualcomm® technology will enable more than 7,800 FIRST Tech Challenge teams to create Android smartphone-controlled robots powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ mobile platform. This control system technology enables students to build innovative and advanced robot designs with autonomous and vision processing features.

In addition to technology, Qualcomm directly supports FIRST events, programs, and thousands of teams globally, with its commitment to teams via direct funding and time donated by hundreds of employees. Qualcomm is doing its part to bring innovation, collaboration, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education to students all over the world.

Qualcomm hosted a livestreamed kickoff event at their Headquarters in San Diego, Calif., with more than 50 teams of students who were excited to learn the game details for SKYSTONE.

“We’re thrilled to return as this year’s presenting sponsor for a fourth year in a row, and to host the 2019-2020 FIRST Tech Challenge Kickoff,” said Angela Baker, director, corporate responsibility, at Qualcomm Incorporated. “It’s exciting to see what’s possible when the power of Qualcomm’s technology platforms is combined with hands-on, experiential and mentor-based programs of FIRST to inspire students across the globe.” 

FIRST Tech Challenge is a widely accessible robotics program for grades 7 through 12 in which teams design, build, code, and operate sophisticated robots to play a themed floor game in an alliance format. Guided by adult coaches and mentors, student develop STEM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team.

In the 2019-2020 game, SKYSTONE, teams work in an alliance to build a superstructure within a burgeoning future city. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by repositioning their foundation in their building site; delivering stones from the loading zone to the building zone; placing stones on their foundation; and navigating their robots under their segment of the bridge. Teams must program their robots to play in three sections: autonomous, driver-controlled, and the end game. The game is completed as teams move their structures into their optimal space, topping it off with a crown achievement – a final capstone of their own design to symbolize their reach into the sky. Points are added throughout game play, and penalties are assigned at the end of the match.

FIRST is proud to partner with Qualcomm to inspire young people to realize their power to reach new heights and shape the future,” said Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST. “The relevant, real-world skills these students are building will equip them for careers in industries that don’t even exist yet. During the SKYSTONE season, we have challenged these students to harness their curiosity and innovative spirit to imagine futuristic cities, and we can’t wait to see what they build together.”

In addition to designing and building robots, FIRST Tech Challenge participants raise funds, design and market their team brand, and do community outreach to earn specific awards during the competition season. High school FIRST participants are eligible to apply for over $80 million in college scholarships from 200 scholarship providers through the FIRST Scholarship Program.

FIRST Tech Challenge is one of the K-12 STEM robotics programs in a Progression of Programs offered by FIRST. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators.

Registration for the 2019-2020 SKYSTONE season is now open. Need-based grants supported by generous sponsors are available for new and returning FIRST Tech Challenge teams.

FIRST Tech Challenge SKYSTONE presented by Qualcomm is part of the 2019-2020 FIRST season, FIRST RISE, powered by Star Wars: Force for Change.

To inspire the next generation of inventors, Qualcomm partnered with a team of talented FIRST students to reimagine the Rube Goldberg machine. Combining Qualcomm Snapdragon technology, teamwork, and creativity, they made the impossible, possible. Watch the video to see the machine in action.  


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, N.H., 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 $80 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

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Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.