Sep 8, 2020

2019-20 Season Accomplishments and 2020-21 Preview

FIRST Chesapeake After School Programs
FIRST Chesapeake After School Programs

Thank you for your continued support of FIRST Chesapeake through the 2019-2020 season. As we prepare to launch the 2020-21 season, here is a round-up of everything we accomplished during 2019-20.

 FIRST Chesapeake directly impacted over 7,000 middle and high school students in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. This year, 320+ FIRST robotics teams competed in 20+ workshops and competitions, as well as four virtual Town Halls. These events gave teams the opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments in their own backyards, while promoting the long-lasting benefits associated with participation in FIRST programs.

With the unprecedented challenges beginning in March due to COVID 19, FIRST Chesapeake chose to think outside of the box to support our FIRST community. By moving to a virtual format and working with other STEM-based organizations, FIRST Chesapeake has been keeping our students, volunteers, and supporters engaged and informed. Since March, FIRST Chesapeake has:

FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Programs in Virginia

FTC continues to offer high quality STEM-based activities and competitions in Virginia. FIRST Chesapeake was able to once again offer on-site and virtual workshops to 180+ teams (over 1800 students total) in Virginia, and more than 4,000 FIRST Tech Challenge teams worldwide in 2019.

FIRST Chesapeake continues to partner with NextUp RVA to bring FTC into Title I middle schools in Richmond, and over the past five years, this project has given 400+ students from under-resourced communities a chance to apply Science and Engineering concepts while experiencing the excitement of a competition. Just as importantly, participation in this program has given students a sense of fulfillment for a job well done.

Already one of the largest concentrations of FIRST robotics programs in the US, in July 2020 FIRST Chesapeake acquired 120+ additional FTC teams in the District of Columbia and Maryland. Even though FIRST Chesapeake recognizes the unique challenges due to COVID 19, its board feels an obligation to support the DC and Maryland FTC teams and volunteers who were orphaned by their previous program partner in February 2020.

 Additional program data includes:

  • 15,000+: Event attendance at the FTC Qualifiers and Championship
  • 12,000+: Unique live feed views of select qualifiers and Championship
  • 2,500: Number of printed Qualifier and Championship programs recognizing your company
  • 400+: middle and high school team members and mentors attending the third annual tandem FTC Workshops Sponsored by ECPI University in Manassas and Richmond
  • 192 registered FTC teams in Virginia
  • 54: number of FTC teams competing at the FTC State Championship Sponsored by Capital One
  • 15: Title I schools in Northern Virginia hosting rookie FIRST teams in 2020 as part of a partnership with Amazon and VA-DC FLL.
  • 9: FTC Qualifiers and State Championship Sponsored by Capital One

FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) in DC, Maryland, and Virginia

As part of the January Kick Off/Workshop event, InSource Solutions’ Dunn Dillard shared his experiences with a lecture hall full of FRC team members and mentors at welcoming ceremonies. While the FRC competition season was cut short, three district events were held in February and March. 

After events were cancelled, FIRST Chesapeake’s volunteer judges continued to interview teams remotely to recognize cultural award winners, such as Dean’s List and Chairman’s Award winners. FIRST Chesapeake also awarded the first-ever Jim and Laraine Schubert Unsung Heroes: Mentor Award to two very deserving mentors who have gone above and beyond to support their under-resourced teams.

Additional FRC program data includes:

  • 3,170+: high school age team members
  • 40%: minority team members
  • 1400: team mentors

FIRST Chesapeake Volunteers

The FIRST Chesapeake volunteer program was on track to grow by approximately 15% before the cancellation of the FRC season. Based upon the shortened season, 2019-2020 volunteer data includes: 

  • 20,600+ donated volunteer hours
  • $600,000 approximate value of donated volunteer hours
  • 1,500+: event volunteers in database
  • 200+: filled judges’ positions at FRC competitions
  • 50%-65%: local volunteers at each event
  • 29%: team mentors who identify as FIRST Alumni

Outreach and Partnerships

In January 2020, Rolls-Royce sponsored the second Reaching for the Stars Women in STEM Breakfast Sponsored by Rolls-Royce to benefit FIRST Chesapeake. This inspirational event was attended by 100 of the most influential women in technology in the DC Metro area. Over 60 very impressive young women applied and three scholarships, sponsored by Dominion Energy, were presented to young women on FIRST Chesapeake teams.

FIRST Chesapeake also continues to work with its alumni pool to develop mentoring and team funding opportunities. In 2019-2020, FIRST Chesapeake and Booz Allen Hamilton piloted an Alumni Ambassador program that provided professional development training to 19 alumni and passed through almost $20,000 to 17 FIRST teams.

 

The Future

Looking ahead, FIRST Chesapeake is pleased to announce the following additions to the 2020-2021 season.

  • More employee engagement opportunities--including virtual engagement--for sponsors
  • More on-line workshops and competition opportunities (virtual and on-site) for teams
  • Additional Town Hall meetings for teams and volunteers in the Fall of 2020
  • The largest ever District Championship Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding in April 2021. Eighty teams will compete at the Hampton Coliseum.
  • Third Annual Women in STEM Program and Scholarship Awards
FTC Virginia Championship Sponsored by Capital One
FTC Virginia Championship Sponsored by Capital One
FRC District Richmond Sponsored by Dominion Energy
FRC District Richmond Sponsored by Dominion Energy
Alumni Ambassador Team Grant Recipients Team 422
Alumni Ambassador Team Grant Recipients Team 422
May 7, 2020

Project Update

FRC Richmond Event Sponsored by Dominion Energy.
FRC Richmond Event Sponsored by Dominion Energy.

In January, the 2020 FRC season started out with a lot of excitement surrounding the FIRST Rise Challenge Powered by Star Wars: Force for Change. Shortly after the start of the 2020 FRC season, FIRST Chesapeake hosted the annual Women in STEM Breakfast sponsored by Rolls-Royce and featured the 2020 Reaching for the Stars Award honoree, Elizabeth Lindsey of Byte Back. Doris Blanchard, one of the first "human computers" at NASA and the 2019 Reaching for the Stars Award honoree, was at the event and got an opportunity to test-drive (see photo) one of the FTC robots featured at the Robotics Showcase sponsored by Dominion Energy.

Three Women in STEM Scholarships, also sponsored by Dominion Energy, were awarded to female members of FTC and FRC teams in the FIRST Chesapeake District. Over 100 people attended the Women in STEM Breakfast to celebrate the achievements of these remarkable young women. We are very proud to call them FIRST Chesapeake team members.

Meanwhile, FTC season was in full swing, with seven qualifying competitions throughout Virginia. The FTC Virginia Championship sponsored by Capital One was hosted in February at Atlee High School just outside Richmond and 40 teams competed.

FIRST Chesapeake was only able to host three of eight planned FRC competition events before the remainder of the season was canceled due to COVID 19 restrictions, but the events that did occur were full of energy, with over 1,000 people attending each event. After events were canceled throughout Maryland and Virginia, teams in the FIRST Chesapeake District did what FIRST teams do best--they got busy problem solving.

Since the early end of the season, some FIRST Chesapeake teams have been helping with COVID 19 relief efforts by using their expertise and equipment to create 3-D printed face shield hardware and face masks for use with removable filters. Teams also stepped up to help us finish the 2020 FRC season on a high note through a series of interactive programs. FIRST Chesapeake Chats Sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding is a series of educational and informative live programs featuring topics that range from "cool jobs" in STEM to control system programming tips. Teams earn stipends for developing original content and producing an episode for the series.

Though our competitions give students the opportunity to celebrate the many hours and hard work they invest during build season, and give students the opportunity to model gracious professionalism and coopertition under pressure, FIRST is about much more than the competitions. The skills students gain learning to work as part of a team while solving real-world engineering and business challenges is what builds the skilled workforce of tomorrow. We know that even with a shortened competition season, our FRC teams still benefitted from being part of the FIRST continuum of programs.

We value your continue support, especially as we navigate planning for mulitple contingencies. Stay tuned to find out what innovations and accommodations FIRST Chesapeake will make to ensure the 2020-21 FTC and FRC seasons under the new normal of COVID 19 precautions.

Teams troubleshoot and make repairs in the pits.
Teams troubleshoot and make repairs in the pits.
FTC Virginia Championship Sponsored by Capital One
FTC Virginia Championship Sponsored by Capital One
Women in STEM Robotics Showcase
Women in STEM Robotics Showcase
Women in STEM Breakfast Sponsored by Rolls-Royce.
Women in STEM Breakfast Sponsored by Rolls-Royce.
Jan 14, 2020

Project Update STEM Leadership Programs Jan '20

FIRST Alumni Volunteers
FIRST Alumni Volunteers

"I love teaching the advancements of today’s technology and watching the students grasp and run with the knowledge." ~DeAndre', Team 1610 mentor

Thank you for being a part of our FIRST community!

On January 4, 2020 we kicked off the 2020 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). Thanks to VCU School of Engineering for hosting, and to InSource Solutions for sponsoring, the event. Thanks also to all of the teams who traveled and came out to make the Kickoff a celebration.

Since our last report, the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) 2019-2020 competition season is underway, with more events to come in January and February 2020. The FTC Championship sponsored by Capital One will be held on February 22 at Atlee High School. All FIRST Chesapeake FRC and FTC qualifiers and championships are free and open to the public.

Here are some highlights:

  • In December 2019 FIRST Chesapeake received over 50 applications for the second annual Reaching for the Stars: Women in STEM Scholarships sponsored by Dominion Energy. Three outstanding young women associated with FIRST teams were selected to receive scholarships which will be presented at the second annual Women in STEM Breakfast sponsored by Rolls-Royce and hosted at the UVA Darden Conference Center in Arlington, Virginia.
  • FIRST Chesapeake launched its inaugural Alumni Ambassador Program sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton. Twenty Alumni Ambassadors will serve as the 2020 cohort of this pilot program which is designed to inspire FIRST alumni to remain engaged as volunteers, mentors, and advocates and to train for more complex volunteer roles. Each Ambassador who completes the requirements of the program will be eligible for a $1,000 team grant to a FIRST team of their choice. Team grants are also sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton. We are excited about this pilot program and look forward to introducing the 2020 Alumni Ambassador cohort at events throughout the season.
  • The 2020 FRC District Championship sponsored by Newport News Shipbuilding will be held at Hampton Coliseum April 3-5, 2020. This will be the largest ever FIRST Chesapeake District Championship with 80 teams competing on two fields. Join us for a weekend of exciting robotics competition and help us celebrate “STEMinsula on the Peninsula,” presented in partnership with Hampton Convention and Visitors Bureau, Mariners’ Museum, and Virginia Living Museum.



We are always glad to welcome new volunteers—whether your skills are technical or not, all are needed, and we would love for you to join us for the 2019-2020 season. A qualifying tournament in the FIRST Robotics Competition or the FIRST Tech Challenge can require up to 100 volunteers each day. The Championships need more than 120 volunteers, both technical and non-technical, per day. For more details visit https://www.firstchesapeake.org/volunteer.

As always, we appreciate the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations who help us continue to do what we do best—building tomorrow’s technology leaders, today.

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