Looking at the 2003 FIRST Event List, I see that there are 645 teams registered. Last year, the total number of competing teams was 641.
This means that the number of FIRST teams are increasing, as they have consistently over the years. Who knows if the growth rate will be 30-40% as it was in the past, but exceeding last year’s total within 3 weeks of registraion is a pretty good feat.
Kudos to all of the new teams who are registering, the teams who are recruiting them, and the veteran teams who are sticking with it. Most importantly, congrats to FIRST for continuing to provide an awesome program which shows consistent growth and improvement from year to year.
The growth is good of course. Especially with the poor economy. But I worry about the teams that start up, run for a year or three and fall by the way side. I’m not sure the funding model that calls for all or most of the money to come from companies is ideal. FIRST would be a lot more stable if schools put the money into FIRST that they do in teams with similar numbers of students. This implies I am also worried about the schools with fewer than 10 kids on the team as well.
But all to many schools are not interested in FIRST or perhaps do not understand it. Dean is doing a great job selling FIRST to companies but who is selling it to schools? I would like to see FIRST have a booth at NECC (the National Educational Computing Conference) and other educational events to promote the program.