263 Québec Robotique FIRST Competition teams, involving 5,600 students, 1,000 mentors, 400 volunteers, and over 25,000 hours of work
In 5 years, thanks to this initiative, more than 10,000 young people throughout Québec became passionate about robotics
In 2016, more than 100 schools, 11 universities and 40 companies participated in the 5th edition of the Montréal Robotics Festival, inspiring schools from around the world, including Mexico and France to get involved in robotics
Robotique FIRST Québec
Fully functioning robots are no longer the purview of futuristic labs and science fiction movie plots. Thanks to Robotique FIRST Québec, Youth Fusion and their annual Robotics Festival, amazing robots are being designed right here in Québec, by elementary and high school students.
Robotique FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Québec was launched by entrepreneur Laurent Beaudoin in 2010, along with several other partners like Jacques Ménard and Gabriel Bran Lopez. The organization works to provide students a platform where they can experiment with and celebrate science and technology while working in a team setting to develop their collaborative and creative skills. The FIRST movement was founded in 1989 in Manchester, New Hampshire, by U.S. inventor Dean Kamen to demonstrate to youth that a career in engineering and research could be immensely fulfilling and to inspire their career choices. In 2001, FIRST Canada was established in Ontario and the Robotique FIRST Festival was introduced in Québec in 2012.
The 2015 edition of the Robotique FIRST Competition was held at the Uniprix Stadium in Montréal during March. It was billed as “varsity sport for the mind” or as “sport for engineers” as it combines the excitement of sport with the rigours of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time constraints, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, devise a communication and marketing plan, design a team “brand”, develop audiovisual and multimedia platforms, hone teamwork skills, and build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. Students are exposed to design, project management, programming, teamwork, strategic thinking and what FIRST calls “Coopertition.”
Prizes were awarded in a number of categories to teams from across Québec. Entries were also received from schools in New York, New Jersey and France.
In 2015, 263 teams participated in the Robotique FIRST Competition in Québec; 5,600 students, 1,000 mentors and 400 volunteers were involved.
“I am proud of the engagement of our students, companies, universities and schools in general. By their commitment, they have helped Québec shine nationally as well as internationally,” said FIRST Québec Board Chairman, Laurent Beaudoin.
“The Robotique FIRST program is beneficial on many levels,” says John Rae, Executive Vice-President, Power Corporation. “Largely headed by volunteers, FIRST exposes youth to the wonders of science and technology and gives them an entrepreneurial mindset and competitive spirit. These young people develop the confidence and experience they need to create their own successful businesses in the future.”
Since 2012, Québec teams have managed to succeed at the international competitions. In 2015, the team from Rimouski was even ranked in the TOP 12 at the World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri, in front of 30,000 people.
“The support of Power Corporation has enabled us to make the program accessible to many disadvantaged public schools and to reach communities across the province of Québec, including James Bay First Nations. With this major partnership, we are not only reducing dropout rates, but also exposing youth to career possibilities while fostering the skills needed to pursue them,” says Gabriel Bran Lopez, president of Youth Fusion and cofounder of FIRST Québec.