Congratulations Florida FIRST Tech Challenge Teams!

img_20170225_111424932The 2017 Florida FIRST Tech Challenge Velocity Vortex State Championship was held at Western High School Feb 25, with 29 of the top ranked teams in the state competing for awards and a spot at the South Super Regional competition in Athens, GA on March 24 & 25.


Broward School Superintendent Robert W. Runcie

With opening words by Broward County Schools Superintendent, Robert Runcie, Broward County School Board member Laura Rich Levinson and Western High School Principal,  Jimmy Arrojo kicking things off, teams played energetic high scoring matches throughout the day.  With game announcing by FIRST Alumni Andrew Rudolph and Barry Bohnsack, there was also plenty of singing and dancing, and a great retrospective look at our amazing FIRST Tech Challenge program in Florida (see video above).


Broward County Schools in full and enthusiastic support of FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship

Congratulations to the thirteen teams advancing to the South Super Regional event in Athens, Georgia!

See full event photos on our FIRST in Florida FTC State Championship Flickr Album.

2845 – Team Duct Tape
3846 – Maelstrom
3888 – Greased Lightning
4717 – Mechromancers
5937 – Renaissance Robotics
6433 – Neutrinos
7203 – KNO3
7477 – Super 7
7826 – Mini-Moose
8908 – Robo Mojo
9110 – WiredCats Omega
9779 – PIEaters
10345 – Royal Blue

Go Teams!

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FIRST STEAMWorks is Coming: Sign up for Florida KickOffs to See it Live & Get Kit of Parts!

first-steamworks-rgb-hThe 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff on January 7th, 2017 marks the beginning of the design and build season for teams around the world.  In Florida, teams have the opportunity to meet at local live Kickoffs to compare notes, get ideas, make friends, find mentoring teams, learn the game, and pick up the build season Kit of Parts free of charge!

There are several great locations to view the FIRST STEAMWorks Kick Off in Florida on January 7th.  Teams can sign up through their team accounts or when they register.  And don’t forget – there’s 100% funding for every new Florida FIRST Robotics Competition team this year, and every Florida FRC team receives state funding!

Florida Kick Off Sites

University of Florida
686 Museum Rd
Gainesville, FL 32611 USA

Melbourne High School
74 Bulldog Blvd.
Melbourne, FL 32901 USA

Exploding Bacon at the Orlando Science Center
777 E Princeton St.
Orlando, FL 32803 USA

Orlando Science Schools
2427 Lynx Lane
Orlando, FL 32804 USA

Suncoast High School
1717 Avenue S.
Riviera Beach, FL 33404

Shalimar, FL 32579 USA

1320 E 9th Ave
Tampa, FL 33605 USA

Go Teams!

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State of Florida FIRST Robotics Competition Funding for 2017!


Click image to download Florida State Funding Instructions

For the first time ever, Florida FIRST Robotics Competition teams are receiving funding support from the state of Florida!

Thanks to South Florida Congressman, George Moraitis, and Senator Chris Smith, working with FIRST Robotics Competition  Team 744, Shark Attack and with the support of FIRST in Florida personnel and representatives of the University of Central Florida and Florida Atlantic University, every Florida FIRST Robotics Competition team will receive $2000 towards registration.

“I was honored to work with FIRST Robotics in securing state funds to assist with the robotics competitions in South Florida,” said Congressman Moraitis. “Robotics is a great way for our students to experience how engineering and science can be used in a tangible while allowing them to learn and compete with teachers and other professionals in our community. I want to specifically thank Kent Stolley, Lauren Cooley and (FIRST Regional Directors) Terri Willingham and Sandra Contreras for their invaluable assistance with this year’s funding for FIRST Robotics.”

Combined with FIRST funding for rookies, that means every new FIRST Robotics Competition team in Florida receives 100% funding, and returning teams can benefit from the additional funding in combination with Society of Women Engineers and other grants.

Continue reading

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Guest Blog: Ninjineers Help Create the Future!

We kick off the start of the new school year with the first of what we hope will be a series of guest posts by Florida teams.  Starting us off is FIRST Robotics Competition team 2383, the Ninjineers, of American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida. Check out their story!

group picWith the start of a new school year comes the start of a new First Robotics Competition Cycle. And with the new season comes more than just robots. What also comes are the memories created building them, the life lessons taught from our wonderful mentors, and incomparable experiences that will last a lifetime.

And so, the Ninjineers decided to try something completely new, with the help of our little young up-and-coming engineers.

Continue reading

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Duval County Public School Board Votes to Expand FIRST Robotics Programs

DuvalDuval County Public School Board vote expands FIRST LEGO League access for public school students to every Duval County middle school. 

On July 12, 2016 the Duval County Public School Board voted to expand FIRST LEGO League teams to all middle schools, an  increase from 36 to 50-plus schools. Local organization Renaissance Jax, the FIRST LEGO League Affiliate Partner for Northeast Florida, was awarded the contract.

The vote at the regularly scheduled school board meeting means a funding increase to $187,500 for 2016-2017 school year with a separate measure to fund additional teacher stipends for FIRST Robotics coaches. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti and School Board Chair Chairman Ashley Smith-Juarez proposed the increase in funding.

FIRST LEGO League is an international robotics competition for students in grades four to eight and is part of the FIRST Progression of Programs. Local FIRST affiliate Renaissance Jax will oversee program growth, teacher training and resource allocation for the district’s robotics teams. Renaissance Jax founder Mark McCombs, a 27-year-old FIRST alumni, formed the 501(c)3 organization three years ago with the goal of building FIRST
teams in all Duval County schools by 2021.

“By promoting science education in a fun, competitive environment, we’re helping to train America’s next generation of scientists, engineers and skilled laborers, an area we’re currently fallen behind in as a country,” said McCombs. “We’re laying the groundwork for the future to make Northeast Florida a place companies will want to relocate to because we will have built a large talent pool in science and tech. To that end, my goal is more FIRST participants per capita in Northeast Florida than any other region in the country.”

This year, Renaissance Jax will support close to 2000 students across 20 counties through the FIRST Progression of Programs. Teams collaborate in their quest to design, build and program robots for competition. Through their summer camp programs in the last two years, we have introduced more than 300 students have been introduced to the world of competitive robotics. Renaissance Jax’s goal is to eventually support 300 robotics teams in Jacksonville alone. Last year, 38 new teams were created in DCPS schools towards that goal.

Following the vote to increase funding, Dr. Vitti spoke about why he believes building FIRST programs in DCPS schools is so important.

“It goes back to what I said tonight – the jobs of today are STEM-based. Students will not be prepared for that type of work unless they have exposure at early ages – and exposure means actually participating in hands on activities where they see mathematics and science come to life and the opportunity with FIRST LEGO League is to have kids involved at very young ages early on applying math and science in a collaborative way and in a  competitive way,” said Dr. Vitti in his remarks.

“We talk so much about sports about how it leads to the honing of skills, dedicating yourself to become a better athlete, and the same concept should be applied to academics and certainly this is the case when you look at FIRST LEGO League. I’m excited, I can see it, I saw a little bit of it last year, I can definitely see all of our kids participating and all of our schools, and it’s going to happen one of these days in the future.”

Key partnerships with local companies, colleges, universities and other nonprofits like Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub all play key roles in building capacity for tech talent, retention, and business growth in the area. The STEM2 Hub has been critical to the success of Renaissance Jax by bringing resources, mentorship, and the right people together. The STEM2 Hub provides the essential, missing elements for Northeast Florida
to accelerate quickly the percent of Northeast Florida students choosing STEM2 careers.

The STEM2 Hub is led by Robert Copeland, an electrical engineer who holds a master’s degree from Stanford, taught algebra, calculus, and statistics at Stanton College Preparatory School. A former executive at AT&T, Copeland came out of retirement to teach for 13 years before taking his position at the STEM2 Hub.

For more information about Renaissance Jax and their mission and programming, please visit

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