HOUSTON (April 13, 2015) - Houston will host the world's oldest and largest robotics competition for students in a multiyear deal that starts in 2017.

Manchester, NH-based FIRST® Championship has signed a deal with Houston First Corp. to bring its annual signature event to Houston for the first time in April of 2017 with an expected attendance of roughly 25,000 students. FIRST will host two championships in Houston and St. Louis that year, and move to Detroit and Houston in 2018. The Houston deal is for three years and is likely to have an annual impact on the local economy of well over $20 million, organizers say.

"We are thrilled to expand the Championship experience to thousands more kids who are eager to compete and excel," says Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST, which is a pioneer in using robotics to inspire students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). "By hosting two Championship events in separate cities on subsequent weekends, we can double the number of students who can participate in the life-changing experience of a FIRST Championship, while also making the events closer and more accessible to participating teams."

"I'm very pleased we have the opportunity to bring a FIRST Championship to Houston," says Houston Mayor Annise Parker. "I had the chance to meet with the organizers of FIRST when they were in the city in October and I learned about their work to nurture the next generation of STEM professionals. Now we get to show students from around the country firsthand what an amazing city Houston is."

In Houston, FIRST Championship activities will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Toyota Center, and Minute Maid Park. In terms of lodging, attendees will be spread out across at least 20 different hotels.

"We are excited to be hosting FIRST in Houston beginning in 2017," says Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First Corp. "As the largest life sciences destination in the world, Houston is a leader in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Houston and FIRST are a great fit and we're confident participants will have a wonderful experience."

Officials with FIRST say the renovations underway in the Convention Center District surrounding the George R. Brown factored into their decision to bring the event to Houston. They cited the convenience factor of having multiple venues within walking distance of one another, matched with the new hotel properties coming and amenities for attendees such as Discovery Green Park and the planned restaurants and retail. Altogether approximately $1.5 billion is being invested in the district.

About FIRST®
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $20 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.




A.J. Mistretta