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A CHARGED UP ending to the FIRST ENERGIZE robotics season in New England

The Big E in West Springfield, Mass., was excited to host 90 teams in two divisions from all over New England as they competed like crazy to see who would take home the title of New England District Champions! All six states were represented and teams were excited to see who would earn one of 32 qualifying spots at the FIRST Championship in Houston, Texas, two weeks later.

It was amazing to bring everyone together for this incredible celebration of FIRST and STEM in our district. We even did our best to fit everyone into one photo on Saturday morning in the break between alliance selection and divisional playoffs!

Each division of 45 teams ran 90 qualification matches, had their own alliance selection and playoffs tournament, and crowned champions and other award winners. Though the high score of the event was 225 with penalties, the Meir Division saw an almost perfect score of 191/193, in penalty-free qualification match 71.

After lunch on Saturday, the Meir Division Champion Alliance went up against the Wilson Division Champion Alliance to crown the true winners of the New England District Championship. Congratulations to the Wilson Division Champions who came out victorious!

We want to make next year even better: read on to see all of the great activities and award winners on and off the field, and fill out this comprehensive event survey to help us improve for 2024!

For the second year in a row we were able to plan a dual-field district championship, and the event planning committee identified two New England natives to serve as inspiration for our division names for teams competing on these fields: Jessica MEIR and Stephanie WILSON.

Jessica Meir is an astronaut and scientist from Caribou, Maine, studying the physiology of animals in extreme environments (like space!). She was selected by NASA in 2013 and has spent 205 days in space. Meir was part of the first all-female spacewalk in 2019!

Stephanie Wilson is an astronaut and engineer from Boston, Massachusetts, with research focused on the control and modeling of large, flexible space structures. She was selected by NASA in 1996 and has flown on three separate space shuttle missions.

These two also inspire us together: Wilson was the ground controller in Houston for Meir's spacewalk, and both have been part of the Artemis program, with its first crewed flight to the moon (Artemis 2) planned for late 2024. Each division's winning alliance competed in the ARTEMIS ARENA for the finale matches on Saturday afternoon

Outside of the CHARGED UP matches throughout Thursday and Friday, teams were able to participate in a variety of activities and projects. Whether they helped our community service project of making a cat toy to donate to the Dakin Humane Society in Springfield, or just had fun with a scavenger hunt or Mario Kart tournaments, there was something for everyone!

Between robot matches in the Coliseum and the robot pits in the Young Building, the A Barn was full of colleges and universities in Scholarship Row, local companies in Sponsor Row, massive combat robots from Aberrant Robotics and even members of the 501st Legion. We also had our district Engineering Inspiration and Rookie All-Star teams who were competing for awards without their robot at the event, ready to tell their stories to invited guests.

Special thanks to Northwest Designs for creating commemorative shirts for the occasion that anyone could customize and purchase!

We made sure to bring every FIRST program under one roof, with a FIRST Tech Challenge field and matches to show off POWER PLAY and FIRST LEGO League Challenge tables and teams to show off SUPER POWERED. There was even a relaxing LEGO free-for-all building table!

Thank you to the New England companies looking to inspire the next generation of employees with their support:

  • BAE Systems

  • Mathworks

  • United States Air Force

  • GE Aerospace

  • Hack Club Bank

And thank you to the colleges and universities, many of whom brought in FIRST alumni to chat with current students about next steps after high school:

  • Western New England University

  • University of Connecticut

  • Wentworth Institute of Technology

  • Merrimack College

  • Southern New Hampshire University

Special thanks to our event speakers, many of whom also represented local NE FIRST sponsors, for joining us during opening ceremonies to share their STEM journeys and :

  • Shab Smith, an alumna of FRC 178, The 2nd Law Enforcers, and engineering director for NE FIRST Presenting Sponsor BAE Systems

  • Lieutenant Ryan Cramer from the United States Space Force

  • Dr. Robert Johnston, President of NE FIRST event host and alma mater of many FIRST alumni, Western New England University

  • Kevin Fogarty, FIRST alum and program manager at NE FIRST Leader in Technology Sponsor, Medtronic