BOSTON — The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the For Inspiration & Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, educational programs. PTC Inc. today invited FIRST teams around the world to participate virtually in its “Robots to the Rescue” design competition.
FIRST is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Each year, the global nonprofit organization offers a suite of robotics competitions for students in grades PreK-12. These competitions provide participants with a sense of accomplishment and the understanding that they can do anything with their collective skills, leadership, and confidence. The experience they gain can benefit their future and take them further than any other sport can, said the organization.
In mid-March, amid school closures and expanded travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, FIRST announced the suspension of its current season.
Robots to the Rescue to use Onshape
PTC provides software to help manufacturers design products and services, improve efficiency, and increase workforce productivity. The company has invited students to participate in its Robots to the Rescue program using Onshape, which it said is the world’s only pure Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product-development platform. PTC acquired Onshape in October 2019.
Onshape is used worldwide by thousands of professional and aspiring designers and engineers and is accessible from a wide range of devices, including Chromebooks, MacBooks, smartphones, and tablets. As a pure SaaS platform, there is no software installation required and no IT infrastructure to administer or maintain, allowing students to get started quickly and to collaborate remotely, innovate, and have fun, said PTC.
Because Onshape is Web-based, FIRST students can collaborate remotely while continuing to hone their engineering skills. As part of the six-week competition, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition teams will design a robot that can help solve a real-world problem such as providing food and supplies to people in remote places or removing pollution from the atmosphere.
PTC encourages STEM, FIRST students
“This competition is an opportunity for FIRST students around the world to engage their interest in STEM and collaborate with one another virtually,” stated Jim Heppelmann, president and CEO of PTC. “With Onshape, students will use a robust CAD [computer-aided design] solution that’s powerful, easy to get started, and fun to use.”
“We’re thrilled that PTC has made the Robots to the Rescue competition exclusively available to FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition students,” said Ken Johnson, Director, FIRST Tech Challenge. “We know our participants will gain valuable knowledge through this experience, and it’s a chance for them to virtually connect and problem-solve together during this time of social distancing. We’re grateful to PTC for helping to make the competition possible this year, as well as for its continued support of FIRST over a long-standing relationship.”
The competition launches on Friday, April 3. Students from around the world can register for the competition online here. For a complete list of rules and guidelines, please visit here. Both the competition and the use of Onshape are free to students.
Rockwell Automation, a strategic partner of PTC, is also a proud sponsor of FIRST and is supporting the competition.
Editor’s note: The Robot Report will be introducing Dev Singh, director of business development and global head of robotics, drones, and intelligent machines at Qualcomm Technologies Inc., at “Enabling the Next Generation of Connected Robots” at PTC’s virtual LiveWorx 2020 on June 9.
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