Geared Up: New program from FIRST Robotics

FIRST Robotics announced a new program called Geared UP, a program designed to help fill a gap in STEM learning in middle and high school education. Because each lesson is tied to core academic standards*, the program can be used to supplement classroom instruction or as an after-school program. Currently offered programs include Intro and Advanced. Focusing upon building STEM-based skills, students use a kit of parts and participate in weekly remote activities to build and program their own robot which could become theirs at the end of the program.

Included with each kit are:

  • 9 Hours Of Weekly On-Line Instruction With A Trained Instructor
  • Full Kit Of Parts For 15 Students To Build Their Own Working Robots
  • 2 Hours Of Optional On-Line Support For Educators And/Or Students
  • Access To Instructional Videos And Other Resources

The program includes 15 Robot Kits that students will build and investigate over the course. The robots are based on current technology and utilize typical engineering and industrial concepts throughout the course.

Geared Up Robot

More information about Geared Up and other FIRST-related programs can be found at or

2019 FIRST Robotics

The 2018 -2019 season of FIRST Robotics has wound down to the final match at the World Finals. There were over 33,000 students, mentors, and teachers that led up to the FIRST Championship in Houston Texas. According to FIRST, some 700 or more teams competed and exhibited across all FIRST programs. SVRTC teams were among those who competed in the district regionals, and more recently World Championships.

District Event Picture
Bill with students from Lunenburg

The SVRTC continues to support the teams involved in FIRST Robotics, with the mentorship of Bill Wilson, Senior Technology Engineer of ITTIP. He is constantly researching new products, ideas, and solutions and to assist teams when needed. Serving as a consultant for the teams, Wilson has had the chance to watch the teams grow from first meetings to 15+ year veterans. He has provided face to face training to teams as well as training from a distance using products like Webex and Google Hangouts. “Much of the training I did in Labview programming was done remotely. The web meeting tools are well suited to provide video, voice, and data with interaction locally and remote. Working with students remotely gives me a chance to watch them work on developing their program while I assist and encourage them at the same time”, comments Wilson.

FIRST FRC Competition Field

The Southern Virginia Robotics (SOVAR), a partnership between   Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation (MBC) and SVRTC, supported ten SVRTC school divisions and eleven teams this year,  including:

  • Team 6189 – Amelia
  • Team 5279 –  Campbell
  • Team 6194 – Cumberland
  • Team 1598 – Danville
  • Team 977- Halifax
  • Team 5954 – Lunenburg
  • Team 1262- Martinsville
  • Team 3258 –  Martinsville
  • Team 1413 – Mecklenburg
  • Team 5950 –  Pittsylvania
  • Team 6189 – Amelia
  • Team 6021 – Sussex

Many of the teams will continue to review their performance during the past season in an effort to identify what went right and what went wrong, and what changes might be made to next year’s robot. There is still much to do and learn during the offseason and many teams will take advantage of this time to excel.

Even as the season is coming to an end, SVRTC teams are already making plans and preparing for the 2019 – 2020 season.