Beginning in August 2015, students applying to colleges through the Common Application, a standard entrance application being used by many universities, will be able to select robotics as an activity category that will now receive entrance evaluation credit for their participation in a recognized extracurricular learning activity.
This recognition by the Common Application directors is partly thanks to the persistence of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology or FIRST Headquarters who produces the FIRST Robotics competitions nationally.
Many students who participate in the Utah Regional FIRST Robotics Competition, held annually, have expressed concern over the fact that FIRST and other robotics competitions were not listed as “creditable extracurricular activities” on the College Common Application, an online application that is being used by more and more universities to evaluate candidates for admission.
Since 2010 Utah high schools have participated with other western states in the Regional FIRST Competition. This competition challenges high school Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students to build, design and program robots to perform a specific gaming task. Nine of these teams have won and gone on to the championship.
Five years ago there were three FIRST Robotics Competition high school teams and two FIRST Lego League elementary school teams in Utah. Today FIRST in Utah has grown to 22 FIRST Robotics Competition Teams and more than 300 FIRST Lego League teams, as well as 16 teams that participate in the intermediate program FIRST Tech Challenge.
Realizing the need for robotics to be recognized as an extracurricular activity, Joyce Peters from Hill Air Force Base and Richard Anderson from FIRST Robotics reached out directly to FIRST headquarters in New Hampshire. The organization did not waste any time and, soon after the discussion, posted an online petition and sent numerous emails to the Common Application Board of Directors. This hard work culminated in The Common Application adding robotics to the list of extracurricular activities beginning in August 2014.
The FIRST Robotics Competition allows students to compete with their own robot for the chance to earn a spot at the world robotics championship. The competition, known as the “Superbowl of Smarts,” presents the opportunity for students to win more than $8 million in college scholarships.
A list of teams that have won and gone on to the championship in Atlanta Georgia, which represents the 400 best teams out of more than 2,700, can be found below. To date many Utah teams have gone on to participate in the national championships, and have won several awards, but have not taken first place. Utah’s program is growing and expects to continue to be very competitive.
Team 3006 West HS
Team 3230 Salt Lake City team from the Leonardo/4H
Championship in Georgia 2010
Championship in St. Louis 2012
Championship in St. Louis 2014
Team 3239 NUAMES, Layton has qualified for Championship
Championship in St. Louis 2011
Championship in St. Louis 2013
Team 3245, Waterford School
Team 4585 Hillcrest HS