A Whole New Kind of Olympics!

FIRST Global to Host More than 150 Nations in U.S. Capital for World’s 1st High School-level Robot Olympics

FIRST Global is launching a whole new kind of Olympics, but this time with a focus on what the next generation’s ingenuity can give us. With competitors as diverse as an all-female Muslim/Christian team from Jordan to a rural Honduran team whose members must cross a mountain to attend school, FIRST Global will host one team from each of more than 150 nations (in addition to six continental representatives) that have committed to compete in the world’s first high school-level robot Olympics – the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge in Washington, DC.

          – Full list of participating nations below

Founded by philanthropic inventor Dean Kamen to inspire a passion for science and technology leadership and innovation among the world’s more than two billion youths, FIRST Global (www.first.global) provides the framework for an Olympics-style robotics event that drives home the importance of obtaining the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills our future leaders will need to overcome the greatest challenges facing our world – today and tomorrow.

“By engaging the students of the world in a collaborative competition to help solve the world’s most pressing problems, FIRST Global inspires students to learn the skills they will need to make the discoveries their parents and grandparents would consider miracles, fantasies, or just plain science fiction,” said FIRST Global Founder Dean Kamen.

Due to the universally recognized importance that STEM education will play in addressing our world’s most pressing issues in the years to come, teams participating in the global robotics event include nations from all six inhabited continents, a few of which include: Ghana, Namibia, and Sudan from Africa; Iran, Yemen, China, and Vietnam from Asia; Serbia, Russia, United Kingdom, and Spain from Europe; Mexico, Nicaragua, and Canada from North America; Australia and New Zealand from Oceania; and Peru, Venezuela, and Bolivia from South America. There will even be a Syrian national team that will compete alongside a team of Syrian refugees at this first-of-a-kind global event.

In an overwhelming show of support for their teams and the FIRST Global mission to encourage national governments and non-governmental organizations to invest in STEM education, more than 20 nations ranging from Turkey, Iraq, and Brazil, to Finland, Austria, and Italy, are already looking into sending official diplomatic delegations to the FIRST Global opening ceremony on 16 July 2017. Inspiration for the theme of the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge is being drawn from one of the 14 Grand Challenges of Engineering identified by the national engineering academies of the United States, United Kingdom, and China. To underscore the global importance of these issues, the three engineering academies will attend the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge’s Closing Ceremony to show their support. One of the most pressing and universally relatable of the 14 Challenges across all nations is the issue of access to clean, drinkable water.

Whether due to severe droughts in Sub-Saharan Africa or substandard plumbing in United States, water insecurity is more than just a theoretical problem to overcome, as water related diseases result in the death of a child approximately every 60 seconds. To raise awareness about the current and future dangers of the issues surrounding water security, the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge will focus on access to clean, drinkable water – which has proven to be a potent source of political, economic, and social strife in nations throughout the world – by incorporating the theme into the game design within which all 161 teams will be competing.

In keeping with FIRST Global’s mission to inspire science and technology leadership and innovation internationally, the FIRST Global Challenge will take place in a different nation each year.

“By bringing the future STEM leaders of the world together in an engaging and collaborative environment that teaches them to communicate, cooperate, and work together, using the tools of science and engineering, they will gain the trust with one another that enhances a more truly global community despite differences and preconceived notions,” Dean Kamen explained.

The chart below highlights the countries and continental teams that have committed to sending their robotics representatives to the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge, along with those with whom we are still working to find potential participants for this global event.