FIRST Global Inaugurates the World’s First International Robot Olympics at DAR Constitution Hall

FIRST Global Inaugurates the World’s First International Robot Olympics at DAR Constitution Hall

Dean Kamen’s FIRST Global Challenge to be Held at DAR Constitution Hall from 16-18 July 2017 in Washington, D.C.

For Immediate Release
JULY 16, 2017

Washington, D.C. – This evening, FIRST Global ( kicked off the world’s first international robot olympics for high school students at DAR Constitution Hall to inspire a passion for technology innovation and leadership among the world’s youth. With nearly 160 national teams in attendance plus six additional teams representing each of the inhabited continents, the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge will see teams from all over the world compete in challenges designed to find solutions to the world’s most pressing issues.

With nations coming from the rural areas of Asia – such as Nepal, Cambodia, and Japan – to the thriving economies of Latin America – Mexico, Peru, and Argentina – as well as nations in Africa and the Middle East affected by war and peace alike  – Iraq, Mali, and Yemen, in addition to a Team of Syrian refugees – and the ever-strong nations of Europe – France, the UK, and Italy, the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge not only celebrates innovation, creativity and development, but also cultural diversity and international unity.

Founded by accomplished inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST Global aims to ignite an interest in STEM education and provide equal opportunities so that every child has the chance to obtain necessary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills to overcome the greatest challenges our world faces.

Modeled after the Olympics Parade of Nations, the 2017 FIRST Global Challenge Opening Ceremony saw all 163 participating teams enter the arena at DAR Constitution Hall in alphabetical order, led by the all-female team from Afghanistan who was granted entry to the U.S. on Wednesday. The parade concluded with teams lining up to form a shape resembling a globe, showing that enhanced relations among nations are not only possible but absolutely necessary.

During his opening remarks at the event’s Opening Ceremony, Kamen highlighted the importance of making science and technology accessible to all people, especially the youth who are driven by the will to bring changes to their community.

“By empowering the bright young minds of tomorrow through STEM, countries all over the world, particularly in developing countries, could experience accelerated economic growth, and obtain secure and peaceful livelihoods for their nations. This will require the collective efforts of individuals, corporations, governments, and nonprofits willing to invest in STEM education and infrastructure, and provide equal opportunities to all students”, Dean Kamen explained.

To underscore the importance of amicable relations among countries and stress the importance of cooperation and friendly competition, as well as the universally recognized importance of STEM education in solving world issues, over 50 diplomatic missions accredited in the U.S. attended the FIRST Global Challenge Opening Ceremony including the embassies of Italy, Vietnam, and Mexico.

FIRST Global President Joe Sestak, former U.S. Navy Admiral and Congressman, stated this year’s Challenge represents the power of nations to come together in the pursuit of a common goal, proving that our similarities greatly outweigh our differences.

“I believe the world’s greatest power is the power to convene, to bring nations together in the pursuit of a common goal, proving that what we have in common is far grander than what sets us apart. As a former Navy Admiral and Congressmen, I’ve grown convinced of the importance of education and how it can not only address, but fix many of the issues affecting our communities, making it our primary line of defense” Sestak said.

Over the next two days, all 163 participating teams will engage in a series of games designed to address one of the most pressing issues all nations around the world face today – water security. Modeled after one of the 14 Grand Challenges of Engineering identified by the National Academy of Engineering, the games will see two alliances made up of three teams each competing to separate simulated contaminant and water particles represented by orange and blue game balls respectively with their robots. Each year, a different issue of global importance will take center stage as the theme of that year’s FIRST Global Challenge, which will be held in a different nation every year.


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FIRST Global Mission: The FIRST Global mission is to inspire science and technology leadership and innovation in young people from all nations in order to increase understanding, instill the importance of cooperation, address the world’s most pressing issues, and improve quality of life for all. This mission is accomplished through the FIRST Global Challenge, which culminates with an international robotics game that will rotate among different nations each year. By showing the youth of the world that if they communicate, cooperate, and work together using the tools of science and engineering to find solutions to the world’s grand challenges – water, energy, security, medicine, food, and education – they will be able to accomplish great things and become part of a truly global community.

FIRST Global Challenge: The FIRST Global Challenge is an annual robotics game that will address one of the 14 Grand Challenges identified by the national engineering academies of the United States, United Kingdom, and China. Each year, a different issue of global importance will take center stage as the theme of that year’s FIRST Global Challenge, which will be held in a different nation across the world.

Global STEM Corps: The Global STEM Corps (GSC) is FIRST Global’s 21st century answer to a world in need of an inspired generation of young adults ready to tackle global challenges. Through GSC, grassroots volunteers work to motivate students across the globe to pursue fulfilling, exciting, and rewarding lives through STEM education by mentoring them for an “Olympics”-style robotics event. These community-based volunteers range from civic minded high school and college students, to entire university robotics and engineering departments. The STEM Corps brings the universal elements of science, cooperation, and competition to the world stage by connecting mentors and FIRST Global competitors online and over the phone – making it possible to stay in touch anytime, anywhere.

FIRST Global Founder: Dean Kamen is a prolific inventor, entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for science and technology innovation. His roles as an inventor and an advocate are intertwined with his passion for practical, real world uses of technology, and his personal determination to spread excitement for and the virtues of STEM to the more than two billion youths around the world. Dean’s drive comes from his firm belief that the tools of science and engineering will help equip the world’s youth to solve the most pressing global challenges we face as a planet, both today and tomorrow. 

FIRST Global President: Joe Sestak is a former Admiral and Congressman who commanded an aircraft carrier battle group during combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, served as President Clinton’s Director for Defense Policy in the White House, and headed the Navy’s anti-terrorism unit during his 31 years of naval service. Retiring when his daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer, Joe entered politics upon her recovery to fight for everyone to have the healthcare that saved her life. After leaving Congress, Joe taught at various universities while working for nonprofits focused on refugees, disaster response, education, and foreign policy.