FIRST Unveils New Remote Challenges for FIRST Robotics Competition Teams as Part of the FIRST GAME CHANGERS Powered by Star Wars: Force for Change Season

Global FIRST® Robotics Competition Season Kickoff Broadcast, Officially Sponsored by the United States Air Force, Reveals Details of INFINITE RECHARGESM at Home, Game Design Challenge, and FIRST® Innovation Challenge Presented by Qualcomm

FIRST® Tech Challenge Teams Will Also Participate in the FIRST Innovation Challenge, Opening New Pathways to Innovation and Invention Learning


MANCHESTER, N.H., January 9, 2021FIRST®, a robotics community that prepares young people for the future, launched the 2021 FIRST® Robotics Competition season today with a virtual season kickoff broadcast revealing three new engineering, innovation, and design team-based challenges. An estimated 73,000 high-school students on over 2,900 FIRST Robotics Competition teams in 28 countries are expected to participate during the FIRST® GAME CHANGERSSM powered by Star Wars: Force for Change season.

During the global kickoff broadcast, officially sponsored by the United States Air Force, FIRST founder and accomplished inventor Dean Kamen, president of DEKA Research & Development Corporation, encouraged teams to be creative, inclusive, and game-changing in their approach to the challenges.

“A game changer comes at the intersection of a great new invention or idea and a recognized need that is so compelling that people are willing to change what they were doing to adopt that invention and make it an innovation,” Kamen said. “FIRST is giving you the tools, it’s giving you the confidence, it’s giving you the connection to industry, to universities, to government organizations that all together will create the next generation of game changers.”

As a global organization that teaches young people how to solve problems and innovate, FIRST is committed to doing the same to ensure its participants stay engaged with FIRST programs and continue learning important skills this season. Recognizing ongoing challenges for robotics teams with remote and hybrid learning during the pandemic, limited access to build spaces, tools, and robots, as well as uncertainty for traveling to and attending in-person events, FIRST introduced new challenge opportunities for FIRST Robotics Competition teams to participate remotely this season:

  • INFINITE RECHARGESM at Home gives teams around the world an opportunity to demonstrate their robot’s technical skills in competition. Teams compete for awards by remotely showing off what their robots and drivers can do in five skills challenges based on the 2020 INFINITE RECHARGE field game, which was unveiled prior to pandemic-related shut-downs last year. Teams without access to their robots can compete for technical awards through virtual interviews with judges about their machine’s abilities.
  • The Game Design Challenge invites teams to design an original FIRST Robotics Competition game and compete for judged awards, an opportunity to get creative and artistic while applying fundamental engineering principles. Winning concepts will also be considered for use in future official games. 
  • The FIRST® Innovation Challenge presented by Qualcomm challenges teams to explore the invention and innovation process through identifying a problem or opportunity to help people and communities keep, regain, or achieve optimum physical and/or mental health and fitness through active play or other forms of movement – a challenge inspired by the season’s sports and fitness theme. Teams will design a solution, create a business model and pitch their idea, and advance their skills by using technology as part of the process. Advancing teams will join other FIRST® Tech Challenge and FIRST® LEGO® League teams to showcase their innovative solutions at the 2021 FIRST Global Innovation Awards powered by Star Wars: Force for Change, June 28-30, 2021.

FIRST Innovation Challenge sponsors include: Presenting Sponsor Qualcomm, Key Sponsor BAE Systems, with the support of John Deere and the global healthcare company Abbott and its foundation the Abbott Fund, and in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

“We’ve designed this season to ensure all FIRST Robotics Competition students can participate in meaningful ways while collaborating in-person or remotely with teammates and mentors,” said Chris Rake, vice president of programs at FIRST. “These challenges target a wide range of goals, interests, and skills sets, from engineering design to business development, and allow all team members to build confidence, have fun, and develop important skills. We look forward to seeing what teams accomplish during this unique season.”

FIRST Tech Challenge teams also tuned in to the global broadcast to learn the details of the FIRST Innovation Challenge presented by Qualcomm, which is open to FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition teams. The challenge is designed to provide teams new pathways to innovation and invention learning.

“With advancing innovation at the heart of everything we do at Qualcomm, we are thrilled to collaborate with FIRST to expand opportunities for students from all backgrounds to discover, innovate, and be inspired to become the next generation of inventors,” said Angela Baker, senior director of corporate responsibility at Qualcomm Incorporated, a FIRST Strategic Partner.

All the challenges are part of the 2021 FIRST season, FIRST GAME CHANGERS powered by Star Wars: Force for Change. FIRST has teamed up for a second season with Lucasfilm and parent company Disney, a FIRST Strategic Partner, as part of the Star Wars: Force for Change philanthropic initiative to inspire the next generation of diverse creators, thinkers and leaders.

With the start of the FIRST Robotics Competition season, registered teams also receive access to a Kit of Parts, which includes professional software, robot hardware, and other design and building tools, including motors, batteries, control system components, construction materials, and a mix of additional automation components.

For additional mentorship support, teams have access to the FIRST Mentor Network sponsored by NI, which currently has over 500 mentors from veteran FIRST teams, industry leaders, and FIRST Strategic Partners like NI, Disney, John Deere, and many more who are eager to help students gain the skills and confidence to forge ahead and build their future with FIRST.

FIRST Robotics Competition (grades 9-12), FIRST Tech Challenge (grades 7-12), and FIRST LEGO League (PreK-8) make up the suite of PreK-12 FIRST STEM robotics programs. 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.

By participating in FIRST, students gain confidence to explore the innovation process while learning valuable science, engineering, technology, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. Students also learn and apply the FIRST ethos of Gracious Professionalism® via a signature set of FIRST Core Values.

FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge participants are eligible to apply for over 2,500 FIRST Scholarship opportunities made available by 200+ FIRST Scholarship Providers.

To learn more about the FIRST GAME CHANGERS season and how to participate, visit


About FIRST®
FIRST® is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12) that can be facilitated in school or in structured afterschool programs. Boosted by a global support system of volunteers, educators, and sponsors that include over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, teams operate under a signature set of FIRST Core Values to conduct research, fundraise, design, build, and showcase their achievements during annual challenges. An international not-for-profit organization founded by accomplished inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST has a proven impact on STEM learning, interest, and skill-building well beyond high school. Alumni of FIRST programs gain access to exclusive scholarships, internships, and other opportunities that create connections and open pathways to a wide variety of careers. Learn more at