More than 35,000 individuals from Arkansas, eight other states and Mexico are expected to attend the Arkansas Rock City Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at Barton Coliseum this weekend. Honored guests and speakers include Lieutenant Governor, Tim Griffin, Congressman Westerman, and Daryl Bassett, Director of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

FIRST is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to encouraging young people’s interest and participation in STEM opportunities and invites students who may not be predisposed to science, math, or technology to participate.

This year, the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (ADWS) announced its commitment to provide funding for fifteen student teams from the Delta region of Arkansas to compete in the 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition.

So far, eleven new teams from the Delta will compete in 2019 under the sponsorship of ADWS.

Notice of the funding opportunity was sent directly to the superintendents of school districts in the Delta region, along with an invitation to attend this year’s competition as a special guest of the Department of Workforce Services.

To introduce them to the FIRST Robotics Competition, special guests will receive tours of the competition floor, prime seats for viewing, and VIP access at the event.

FIRST provides a pathway to the workforce that will help Arkansas meet the demands of our current and future economy. According to FIRST, its participants are nearly twice as likely to major in science or engineering, more than three times as likely to major specifically in engineering, and more than twice as likely to expect to have a science or technology-related career after college.

All FIRST students are eligible for exclusive opportunities including over $50 million worth of scholarships and high quality internships at places such as NASA, Apple and SpaceX.

There are Arkansas FIRST alumni currently attending schools such as MIT and Yale on full scholarships from this organization. Ten percent of MIT engineering students were on FIRST teams.

“ADWS is committed to improving access to STEM learning opportunities like the FIRST Robotics Competition, as student engagement in these programs will strengthen the STEM pipeline and, in turn, drive economic growth in Arkansas.” Daryl E. Bassett, director of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, said.

Saturday schedule:

• 8:30-9 a.m. Opening ceremonies.

• 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Qualifying matches.

• 1:30-4:30 p.m. Final rounds matches.

• 4:30-6 p.m. Awards and closing ceremonies.