In our continuing effort to ‘think outside the box’ in FRC, we’re answering a Frank Answers Fridays question on Monday. How’s that for creativity? (Are you guys buying this?)
In any case, today’s good question is from Navid Shafa, of Team 1983, Skunkworks Robotics, in Des Moines, Washington State.
What is FIRST's plan for International expansion and what regions are due for new events?
Answer: I turned this question over to Daniela Dimova, the FRC International Coordinator. Here is her response:
Hello Navid and thank you for your question,
I am one of the newest members of the FRC department and I’m very excited at the prospect of expanding our international presence and introducing more students around the globe to FIRST.
It takes a great deal of effort to launch an FRC Regional in terms logistics, field equipment, staffing, etc. FIRST has established certain guidelines and conditions that have to be met in order for a site to be considered to host a Regional. We do this because we want all our events to be a successful and positive experience for everyone and no matter where you compete- be it New York or Tel Aviv, it will have the same look and feel and will be just as much fun. One criterion is that the country must have had 15 teams participating in the year prior to the inaugural event. And because our games and awards are traditionally designed for 24 (or more) teams per event, we ask that there are at least that many competing teams in the actual local event. We also need to make sure that the hosting country has enough support from local sponsors and the community, with the intent to establish a viable foundation that will be strong enough to sustain the event long term. I know it sounds daunting but just like everything else in life- it takes a lot of hard work to achieve great results!
We are certainly aware that it takes additional time and resources for the out-of-country teams to come to competitions, and it’s only natural to want to have a more local event, but many will tell you that the experience of international travel is well worth the effort. It is very rewarding and beneficial for both the international students and their hosts who are anxious to welcome participation from teams around the world who share their passion for technology. They exchange ideas and get exposure to a different culture, and a great number of friendships have been formed between teams that go on for many years. We have been very fortunate to see both our team count and country representation grow every year and expect that trend to continue for the 2014 season. Last year, we welcomed 241 teams outside of the continental USA from 16 countries.
In regards to the second part of your question- we are very happy to welcome Mexico who will host their first regional in 2014. Also, our dear friends in Israel will be celebrating their 10th anniversary this coming season. Canada has two new events, bringing their total to seven regionals. Congratulations to all the countries and we truly thank everyone involved for their dedication, passion and hard work!
To summarize- there’s always something brewing in the FRC-international-pot, even though official announcements aren’t made until events are confirmed. So hold tight!
Frank Answers Fridays and occasionally Mondays is a weekly-ish blog feature where I’ll be answering ‘good questions’ from the FRC community. You can e-mail your questions to email@example.com. Please include your name, team number and where you’re from, which will be shared, if selected.