Honoring the Next Generation of FIRST® Innovators


Six members of the SESI Big Bang team

Team: SESI Big Bang
From: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Innovation: FIGLOVE is an innovative strip placed in the palm of the hand that reduces pain during exercise. This innovation is especially beneficial to people with fibromyalgia, allowing them to stay active for longer periods of time which in turn helps reduce their symptoms.

Members of the Java The Hutts team

FIRST Tech Challenge
Team: Java the Hutts
From: Fort Meyers, Florida
Innovation: To solve the problem of the lack of tools for the visually impaired, PATHWAYS is an ultra-wideband (UWB) detector device with an integrated vibration motor module. When attached to the user’s cane, it automatically runs a novel software. Through this software, the device incorporates an interface that scans for UWB beacons, using the detector built into the device, and forms a virtual boundary.

Members of the RoboLyon team

FIRST Robotics Competition
Team: Robo’Lyon
From: Rhone, France
Innovation: The Walk Assistant aims to provide a solution for patients suffering from Parkinson's disease who develop a "freezing" symptom, which is described as sudden immobility that can last a few seconds or a few minutes. When patients experience “freezing,” walking is then impossible, which can lead to dangerous situations, such as falls, and can cause the patient to limit or even abandon his or her movements.

Collins Aerospace is celebrating 10 years as a corporate sponsor of the annual FIRST® Global Innovation Awards, aimed at inspiring the next generation of innovators. Winners and finalists were virtually recognized at a ceremony held on June 30.

FIRST® is a global robotics community preparing youth for the future and the world's leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

How the Global Innovation Awards Work

This year’s competition challenged more than 1,200 teams from around the world to create innovative solutions that encouraged increased physical activity. Students from ages 9 to 18 competed for a spot in the ceremony, one of the world’s largest STEM celebrations.

Twenty finalist teams from each program - FIRST® LEGO League, FIRST® Tech Challenge, and FIRST® Robotics - participated in virtual workshops, mentor sessions, and competitions designed to showcase their research and inventions. Many of these sessions were led by Collins employees, including Joseph Engler, Collins’ chief artificial intelligence scientist.

“There is an entire world of young people that are like sponges when it comes to knowledge, innovation, and excitement,” Engler said. “We have to do everything we can to fan this excitement and spark a desire for learning.”

Celebrating Winning Futures

After a series of interviews and presentations, the top-scoring teams were invited to attend mentoring sessions with former astronaut and Collins Senior Technical Fellow Dan Burbank, to help students advance their futures as innovators.

Collins congratulates each winning team on their revolutionary solutions:

  • FIRST® Lego League Winner: FIGLOVE by Team “SESI Big Bang” of Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • FIRST® Tech Challenge Winner: PATHWAYS Mobility Tool for the Visually Impaired by Team 14725 “Java the Hutts” of Fort Meyers, Florida
  • FIRST® Robotics Competition: Walk Assistant by Team 5553 “Robo’Lyon” of Rhone, France

For more information on how Collins Aerospace is creating and inspiring youth in STEM visit https://ww.collinsaerospace.com/who-we-are/redefining-futures.