Huntsville, Alabama, will host a 2016 FIRST Robotics regional competition — named the “Rocket City Regional” – for the first time at the Von Braun Center March 23-26. Sponsored in part by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, this inaugural regional competition pits high school teams and their student-designed robots against each other in a fun and competitive robotic game.

Registration for the new Rocket City Regional is open and will close Nov. 23. More than 50 teams and 1,500 students are expected to attend the multi-day educational event described as part competition, rock concert, dance-off and sporting event.

FIRST, which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is a national organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen in Manchester, New Hampshire, to inspire young people to pursue careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The FIRST Robotics game changes every year, adding new levels of complexity and elements of surprise that best challenge students. Once the year’s new game is revealed — during a FIRST kickoff celebration in January 2016 — each team will have six weeks to design, build and test their robot’s abilities to meet the demands of the new robotic challenge. To do so, every team receives an identical “Kit of Parts,” which includes a supply of motors, gears, software systems and other technical and hardware equipment. Using their ingenuity, along with guidance by adult mentors, students must work together to build a robot capable of achieving the game’s goals.

“FIRST allows students of multiple ages and backgrounds an opportunity to engage in real science by designing, fabricating and testing their own designs of complex machinery,” said Tammy Rowan, manager of the Marshall Center’s Academic Affairs Office. “Students benefit by developing the advanced skills needed for tomorrow’s workplace, while combining high-tech learning with lots of fun and camaraderie.”

NASA and its Robotics Alliance Project provide grants for high school teams and support for FIRST Robotics competitions around the country to address the critical national shortage in the STEM fields.

To register for the Rocket City Regional, visit:

More information about FIRST programs and competitions is available at:

For more information about NASA Education, visit: