The Cisco Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina campus, normally quiet over the weekend, will be alive and buzzing with activity this Saturday, September 12, as hundreds of students, robots, coaches, and volunteers gather for a day of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning.

For the second year, Cisco RTP is hosting the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Kick-Off in partnership with North Carolina A&T State University (North Carolina FIRST Affiliate Partner for FTC) and NC FIRST Robotics. The centerpiece of the day: Congressman David Price will present the “Game Reveal”—when wide-eyed students learn the rules and guidelines for this year’s robotics competition, and are able to see the field of battle for the first time.

U.S. Congressman David Price attended the "Game and Field Reveal" during the First Tech Challenge Kick-Off event at the Cisco Research Triangle Park campus on September 12, 2015
U.S. Congressman David Price attended the “Game and Field Reveal” during the First Tech Challenge Kick-Off event at the Cisco Research Triangle Park campus on September 12, 2015

The event takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and students will have the opportunity to join forces with competitors from across the state, learn from FTC robotics coaches and team mentors, participate in interactive workshops, and learn of this year’s FTC tournament game. This technology competition is open to 7th to 12th grade students, where teams are not only responsible for designing, building, and programming robots to compete in specific challenges, but also learn the importance of working together, sharing ideas and treating each other with respect and dignity.

This year’s highlights:

We are thrilled to welcome Congressman David Price as our VIP guest to the event.

A consistent advocate for education, the Congressman was a professor at Duke University prior to joining Congress in 1987. Not only will he share some inspirational words with the students, he will participate in this year’s new learning opportunity for them: Speed Mentoring.

These rapid-fire conversations are inspirational for students and Cisco employee mentors alike, as students share their aspirations and Cisco employees share their educational paths, professional experiences, and offer advice.

Since last year, the FTC Kick-Off has nearly doubled in size.

FTC_2Four hundred and sixty one high school students, coaches, and chaperones will be in attendance. At 11:45 a.m., the Game Field itself will be revealed—and students and their robots will storm it to begin plotting their winning strategy. This is the actual playing field where the students’ robots will compete with each other in local qualifiers, state, and national competitions, with the first scrimmages starting in November 2015.

Finally, Cisco RTP has recently reached a major milestone in our US2020 corporate commitment, with 20% of our employees volunteering in STEM mentorship! While Cisco’s commitment to STEM mentoring is nationwide, our RTP employees have exemplified leadership and dedication in inspiring the next generation of tech talent.

Cisco is a long-time supporter of FIRST programs nationally and locally and is proud to support the College of Engineering at NC A&T State University, the FTC Kick-Off event, NC FIRST Robotics, and especially these amazing students. They are the next generation of dreamers and doers.


Ed Paradise

Cisco RTP Site Executive and Vice President of Engineering