OSHAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 14, 2012) - Colin Carrie, Member of Parliament for Oshawa, on behalf of the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), today announced that the Government of Canada will invest up to $1.5 million for FIRST Robotics Canada. The funding will create opportunities for students in southern Ontario to participate in robotics competitions and real-world engineering challenges, encouraging them to look at science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields as potential study and career paths.

"Our government recognizes that to fuel business innovation, jobs and long term economic growth, young Canadians need to explore the benefits of pursuing an education or career in scientific fields," said MP Carrie. "Today's contribution will allow FIRST Robotics Canada to introduce more students to real-world science and technology challenges."

FIRST Robotics Canada will use the funding to involve more high school students in robot-building competitions, with teams competing against each other in tournaments televised by the Discovery Channel. The organization will also establish its successfully piloted Junior FIRST Lego League, which targets students aged six to nine, and expand its FIRST Lego League, which targets students aged nine to 14.

"Our goal is to engage up to 1,650 new students in southern Ontario through participation in our interactive team-based competitive robotics events, over the duration of this two-and-a-half year project," said Mark Breadner, executive director, FIRST Robotics Canada. "This investment will help us offset entry and travel fees for new school teams, ensuring higher access to FIRST programs by all youth regardless of socio-economic status. This will result in greater participation for our students."

The investment is provided through FedDev Ontario's Youth STEM Initiative, aimed at encouraging students in kindergarten through grade 12 to pursue an education or career in STEM fields.

For more information on FIRST Robotics and the project, please refer to the backgrounder.

Created in 2009, FedDev Ontario supports the southern Ontario economy by building on the region's strengths and creating opportunities for jobs and economic growth. The Agency has launched a number of initiatives to create a Southern Ontario Advantage and place the region in a strong position to compete in the global economy. These initiatives are designed to encourage partnerships and support projects that help the region's businesses and communities become more competitive, innovative and diversified. To learn more, please visit www.feddevontario.gc.ca or call 1-866-593-5505.


FIRST Robotics Canada

FIRST Robotics Canada, located in Pickering, Ontario and serving all of Canada, was established in 2001 with a mission to inspire Canadian students to pursue further studies and careers in science, technology and engineering. The organization offers opportunities for students, working in teams and assisted by expert adult mentors, to build robots and to take part in tournaments that feature on-field competitions, judged awards and other forms of recognition, potentially including university and college scholarships. Last year, FIRST Robotics Canada developed partnerships with 300 Ontario schools and had 7,000 students compete in their events.

FedDev Ontario is investing up to $1,500,000 in FIRST Robotics Canada through the Youth STEM Initiative to expand its existing outreach programs throughout southern Ontario. By March 31, 2014, the project aims to:

  • Establish the successfully piloted Junior FIRST Lego League (JFLL) Challenge as part of FIRST's core programming, and engage up to 650 young students aged six to nine.
  • Expand FIRST Lego League (FLL) challenge by an additional 375 students forming 75 teams. The FLL engages students aged nine to 14 in real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface.
  • Expand FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) by an additional 625 students forming 25 teams. FRC is the highest level of robotics competition offered by FIRST. High-school students team up with technology companies to build robots based on the theme of the competition. Built from scratch in only six weeks, these large-scale (five-foot tall, 140 pound) robots compete in high-intensity robo-sports, which are televised by the Discovery Channel.

More information about FIRST Robotics Canada's programs is available at www.firstroboticscanada.org.

Youth STEM Initiative

FedDev Ontario's Youth STEM provides funding to eligible not-for-profit organizations to expand, enhance and coordinate the reach and impact of educational outreach programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for children and youth in kindergarten through grade 12. The initiative is designed to encourage young people to pursue further studies and careers in these fields, creating a future talent pool that is well-positioned to fuel business innovation and growth in southern Ontario.

Applications for funding are being accepted and assessed on an ongoing basis. For more information, please refer to the program guidelines available on the FedDev Ontario website at www.feddevontario.gc.ca.

Contact Information:

Stephanie Thomas
Special Assistant - Communications
Office of the Honourable Gary Goodyear

Media Relations
FedDev Ontario