In their rookie FIRST season, Kealakehe partnered with Waialua and McKinney robotics to win the 2011 FIRST Honolulu competition (Logo Motion held at the Stan Sheriff Center on the campus of UH Manoa. The team was also awarded the GMC Excellence in Industrial Engineering Award. With this victory, the team received prestigious invitation to the World Championships held at the Edward Jones Dome in St Louis, Missouri.
Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), created the world's leading high school robotics competition in 1992. FIRST provides a varsity-like competitive forum that inspires in young people, their schools and communities in an appreciation of science and technology. This robotics competition is a multinational competition that teams professionals and young people to solve an engineering design problem in an intense and competitive way. In 2007 (after 15th FRC season), there were over 130,000 students and 37,000 adult mentors from around the world involved in at least one of FIRST's competitions. In 2011(the 20th FRC season, FIRST had over 294,000 students, 26,900 teams, 24,300 robots, 51,000 mentors/coaches, 50,000 other Volunteers (e.g. events Volunteers, Operational and Affiliate Partners) and nearly $15 million in college scholarships.
FIRST encourages teams to find adults from outside of the school environment who can pass on their knowledge as mentors. There are thousands of scholarships available to students who participate. The FLL robots are entirely autonomous; the FTC competition involves separate autonomous and driver control matches; and the FRC competition involves an initial autonomous period (10 or 15 seconds) followed by tele-operated driver control. On August 14, 2011, ABC aired a special on FIRST called "i.am FIRST: Science is Rock and Roll" that featured many famous musical artists such as The Black Eyed Peas and Willow Smith. will.i.am himself was the executive producer of the special. The program placed a special focus on the FIRST Robotics competition, even though it included segments on the FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST Lego League, and Junior FIRST Lego League. Kealakehe Robotics was one of the teams at the event for the ABC piece.
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