FIRST Robotics Society

Months of preparation, endless building, testing and rebuilding preparing for the ultimate battle for Robot domination and the chance to compete internationally.  In 2016 the Calgary Team “Alberta Tech Alliance” defeated 55 teams from 6 countries (Canada, China, Australia, Brazil, Israel and the United States) to bring the gold medal home to Canada from the China Robotics Challenge in Shanghai!

In April 2017 49 teams participated in our FRC FIRST STEAMWORKS Western Canada Regional at the University of Calgary Olympic Oval. We welcomed high school robotics teams from Australia, China, Poland, Turkey, Mexico, the USA, and Canada as they competed for robotics glory. As Western Canada’s top-level youth robotics tournament, this high-tech sporting event is exciting and energetic as participants compete in a complex STEM challenge. Alberta Tech Alliance won this year’s Regional and are once again off to compete in the robotics World Championships, which will be held in Houston.

By creating opportunities to connect young minds to each other and to real world applications our mission is to inspire young people to pursue further studies and careers in the field of science, technology, engineering and math.

FIRST Robotics is a highly dynamic and engaging program that offers tremendous potential for future talent development in Western Canada. Youth are supported by industry mentors to learn skills and enhance understanding in areas of engineering, design, fabrication, computer programming, and project planning. The annual international competition provides the opportunity to challenge and engage teams to address real life problems and work together to explore solutions.

Since its incorporation in 2013, FIRST Robotics West has positively impacted 2100 youth every year, thanks to over 800 mentors and our industry partners. Below are recent statistics provided by FIRST International, which works closely with research and academic organizations to provide tangible evidence of impact on students’ education and career choices.

  • Our participants experience and learn that science is fun and applicable, and build their self-confidence for STEM and    other future endeavours.
  • STEM Interest Results: 88% of team members better understand how STEM is used to solve problems, the same percent interested in learning about science or technology.
  • STEM Education: 86% of team members are more interested in achieving better results at school; 84% are motivated to take more challenging math or science courses.
  • STEM Careers: 80% are more interested in jobs that are STEM related.

Youth in Kindergarten to Grade 12 design and build robots and showcase them in premier competitions, thanks to a continuum of STEM learning through several robotics leagues.

FIRST Robotics West coordinates 4 program levels:

Jr FIRST Lego League (Jr. FLL) – Kindergarten to grade 3

FIRST Lego League (FLL) – grades 4-8

FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) –  grades 7-9

FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) – grades 9 -12

Team members collaborate to create robots that solve a specific challenge, from simple Lego designs for younger teams to large complex robots that require many types of skills for older teams. Competitions throughout the year provide teams an opportunity to work alongside professional mentors and leaders in the robotics industry to celebrate their hard work, share ideas and collaborate on innovations. The annual Western Canadian FIRST Robotics Challenge (FRC) Regional International Competition in Calgary for youth in grades 9-12 is our premier event.

Many industries such as mining, biotechnology, oil and gas, electricity and the environment will require new STEM trained professionals, in part because of the emergent use of far more robotics across multiple sectors. Research at all levels of Government indicates a demand for a STEM trained workforce that will be required to sustain a growing innovative economy.

FIRST Robotics West endeavors to help mitigate this demand by engaging youth in a higher level of science, technology, engineering and math innovation practices. To accomplish this we have set out to:

  • Increase the number of K-12 students engaged at a higher level of STEM innovation practices. 
  • Increase participation from underserved STEM populations – females, Indigenous students, and those from at-risk and rural environments. 
  • Increase STEM opportunities available through career education, career planning, mentorship programs, increased technical skill and equal access to high quality information. 
  • Improve student potential to succeed in STEM related post-secondary and professional fields. 
  • Empower students to become leaders in science and technology and to understand social return as an investment in their future, and to enhance their future career opportunities.

“I can speak with confidence from witnessing many competitions and interacting with teams that FIRST Robotics Society provides students with exceptional opportunities to develop skills build confidence and establish a desire for lifelong learning.”  Jessica MacDonald Dow Chemical CanadaAs a young non-profit organization in our 4th year, FIRST Robotics West relies on the amazing generosity of our forward-thinking sponsors from businesses, industry partners, and government and community organizations as well as the countless hours put in by volunteers.

The number of individuals and teams involved in FIRST Robotics programs has increased exponentially over the past two years. The number of teams engaged in FIRST Robotics programs throughout Western Canada grew by 20% in the 2015/16 season and 50% more in the 2016/17 season, and shows no sign of slowing down. We anticipate that in the next year growth will continue at these high levels as awareness of, and interest in, FIRST Robotics programs continues to increase.

Our challenge is that we don’t want to have to turn any children or youth away, so we are looking for support to make that possible. The benefits of additional resources will increase opportunities for youth to prepare for, and aspire to, becoming science and technology leaders of the future; by enabling our extremely strapped largely volunteer coordinating team to get much needed support, they will continue to be able to offer our high demand, high quality programs.

How can you advance the impact of FIRST Robotics?  Become part of our growing network of sponsors, mentor and volunteers who see the value in promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics through organized team sport.


We would be happy to explore with you the opportunities for sponsorships.

FIRST sponsorship opportunities include:

  • Financial sponsorship of programs, events, and strategic initiatives
  • In-kind donations of parts, equipment of facilities
  • Scholarships & internships for students
  • Employee engagement
  • marketing


Mentors are the spark behind the great accomplishments of the students. It is a highly rewarding experience that lets you collaborate and help students achieve their goals. Mentors can provide help in technical (engineering / programming) training, organization (planning, financial, etc.) or just general support (keep students on track, track goals, etc.). Mentors mean the world to students, and you will be able to learn and experience a variety of challenges along the way.


There are a variety of volunteering positions available for all kinds of skill levels and abilities (technical and non-technical). We are always looking for more people to lend a hand, for events, event preparation, and ongoing activities.  All help is very much appreciated.

If you desire to make a difference with youth and ensuring a skilled workforce for Alberta’s future, please contact:    Katherine McKinnon [email protected]

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FIRST Robotics Society

Katherine McKinnon



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