FIRST Global Challenge
FGC Dubai Logo.png
Host cityDubai
CountryUnited Arab Emirates
Organizer(s)FIRST Global
Dubai Future Foundation
Nations participating188
Opening ceremonyOctober 24, 2019 (2019-10-24)
Closing ceremonyOctober 27, 2019 (2019-10-27)
Officially opened bySheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai
Main venueDubai Festival Arena
← Mexico City 2018
TBD 2021 →

The FIRST Global Challenge is a yearly Olympics-style robotics competition organized by the International First Committee Association. It promotes STEM education and careers for youth and was created by Dean Kamen in 2016 as an expansion of FIRST, an organization with similar objectives.


FIRST Global is a trade name for the International First Committee Association,[1] a nonprofit corporation based in Manchester, New Hampshire, with a 501(c)3 designation from the IRS.[2]

The nonprofit was founded by the co-founder of FIRST, Dean Kamen, with the objective of promoting STEM education and careers in the developing world through Olympics-style robotics competitions. Former US Congressman, Joe Sestak is the organization's President.

Each year, the FIRST Global Challenge is held in a different city. For example, Mexico City was selected to host the 2018 Challenge after the United States hosted the 2017 edition in Washington, DC.[3] This is a change from FIRST's system of championships, where one city hosts for several years at a time, and more closely follows the design of the Olympic Games.

In May 2020, it was announced that FIRST Global would not host a traditional challenge in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[4]


Washington, D.C. 2017

The 2017 FIRST Global Challenge was held in Washington, D.C., from July 16–18, and the challenge was the use of robots to separate different colored balls, representing clean water and impurities in water, symbolizing the Engineering Grand Challenge (based on the Millennium Development Goal)[5] of improving access to clean water in the developing world.[6][7] Around 160 teams composed of 15- to 18-year-olds from 157 countries participated,[8] and around 60% of teams were created or led by young women.[9] Six continental teams also participated.[10]

Mexico City 2018

A competition during FIRST Global Challenge 2018
A competition during FIRST Global Challenge 2018

The 2018 FIRST Global Challenge was held in Mexico City from August 15–18. The 2018 Challenge was called Energy Impact and explored the impact of various types of energy on the world and how they can be made more sustainable. In the challenge, robots worked together in teams of three to give cubes to human players, turn a crank, and score cubes in goals in order to generate electrical power.[11] The challenge was based on three Engineering Grand Challenges; making solar energy affordable, making fusion energy a reality, and creating carbon sequestration methods.[12][13][14]

Dubai 2019

The 2019 challenge, called Ocean Opportunities, was held in Dubai from October 24–27 and was the first challenge hosted outside of North America.[15] The challenge was themed around clearing the ocean of pollutants, and had two alliances of three teams each attempting to score large and small balls representing pollutants into processing areas and a processing barge.[16] The processing barge had multiple levels, with higher levels worth more points. At the end of the match, robots "docked" with the barge by driving onto or climbing up it, with climbing worth more points. The event was opened by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.[17]

Global STEM Corps

The Global STEM Corps is a FIRST Global initiative that connects qualified volunteer mentors with students in developing countries to prepare them for competitions.[18]


  1. ^ "Haiti Students Compete in First Global Robot Olympics in DC". L'union Suite. July 18, 2017.
  2. ^ "Unrated Profile for International First Committee Association". Charity Navigator. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  3. ^ "Students from 160 Nations to Reconvene a Year from Now in Mexico City for the Second Iteration of the FIRST Global Challenge – FIRST Global". Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  4. ^ "Message from FIRST Global". FIRST Global. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  5. ^ "Provide Access to Clean Water". Engineering Grand Challenges. Archived from the original on June 6, 2017. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  6. ^ Chokshi, Niraj (July 13, 2017). "After Visa Denials, Afghan Girls Can Attend Robotics Contest in U.S." The New York Times.
  7. ^ Pilapitiya, Tarini (July 23, 2017). "Elizabeth Moir students represent Sri Lanka at FIRST Global Challenge". The Sunday Times Sri Lanka.
  8. ^ "What Really Happened at That Robotics Competition You've Heard So Much About". Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  9. ^ Galvin, Gaby (July 19, 2017). "Afghan Girls Celebrated at Global Robotics Event". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on July 19, 2017.
  10. ^ "2017 FIRST Global Challenge". FIRST Global. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  11. ^ "2018 FIRST Global Challenge". FIRST Global. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  12. ^ "Grand Challenges – Make Solar Energy Economical". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  13. ^ "Grand Challenges – Provide Energy from Fusion". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  14. ^ "Grand Challenges – Develop Carbon Sequestration Methods". Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  15. ^ "Arabnet | Dubai Will Host the FIRST Global Robotics this Year". Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  16. ^ "2019 FIRST Global Challenge". FIRST Global. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  17. ^ "Global robotics challenge kicks off in Dubai". Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  18. ^ "FIRST Global Challenge 2017 – FIRST Global". Archived from the original on July 19, 2017. Retrieved July 22, 2017.