Robots at centre of RAF Museum Cosford tournament

Robots built by students across the West Midlands will be at the centre of a tournament at RAF Museum Cosford next month.

A FIRST Tech Challenge tournament
A FIRST Tech Challenge tournament

FIRST Tech Challenge UK’s regional tournament will take place on February 4 and 5.

Winning teams progress to London’s Copper Box Arena in March, where they will compete to represent the UK in the global championships in May, held in the USA, alongside 40,000 young people from 100 countries.

FIRST UK is a tech education charity and the programme aims to make science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) less intimidating and more inclusive.

It also connects young people with industry, providing new role models and teaching vital skills.

Through the programme, young people work on their soft skills – such as problem-solving, working and collaborating with others, and building confidence and resilience.

Meeting weekly from September until March, teams of up to 15 young people, aged 12 to 18, design, build and programme a robot to take on a global challenge with support from an industry mentor.

The game involves manoeuvring robots and building structures to score points.

Ed Cervantes-Watson

Ed Cervantes-Watson, CEO at FIRST Tech Challenge UK, said: “At FIRST UK we're building more than robots.

"We are demystifying STEM and empowering young people from all backgrounds to make informed choices about their futures.

"The programme enables them to have fun, learn and develop new skills, whilst also making significant connections for the next stage in their lives.

"We’re connecting the classroom with industry, to learn through application in a fresh way.”

It is estimated that the shortage of STEM skills in the UK is costing businesses £1.5 billion a year as they struggle to hire, train and retain talent.

Research from 2018 shows that there is a shortfall of more than 173,000 workers in STEM in the UK.

The two-day tournament will see 59 teams compete under the backdrop of the RAF Museum in Cosford.

It is being run in partnership with Collins Aerospace.

Ed Dryden, vice president actuation systems at Collins Aerospace, said: “Collins Aerospace is thrilled to be a part of the FIRST Tech UK Challenge taking place close to our Wolverhampton facility.

"At Collins we want to inspire children, regardless of their background, to explore all career opportunities available to them, particularly in the areas of engineering and technology.

"The robotics competition offers a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the fun side of STEM, while also building students’ confidence and teaching them relevant life skills.”

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