A 4-H Robotics team in Wayne County, FRC Team 3737, has received a $2,000 Grant from the Duke Energy Foundation/FIRST North Carolina Fund.

Founded by inventor Dean Kamen, who introduced the IBOT Mobility System and the Segway Human Transporter, FIRST was created to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people, their schools and their communities, said local adviser Laura Alley.

The FIRST Robotics Competition expects more than 3,500 teams in the U.S. and 24 countries to compete in over 130 events around the world.

More than 1,000 students will compete at the FIRST North Carolina State Championship to earn a spot at the FIRST World Championship to be held April 18-22 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.

"FIRST isn't about competing, it's about cooperating, and recognizing that if you have the right tools, you'll be able to make this world a better place for yourself and for the country," Kamen said. "There is no stimulus package that will have as much return as stimulating a bunch of kids to become the workforce of the future, the problem solvers, the creators of the future."

Over a six-week time frame, students work with professional engineering mentors to design a robot that solves a problem using a kit of parts and a standard set of rules.

Once these young inventors create the robot, their teams participate in two district events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

FIRST North Carolina partnered with the Duke Energy Foundation in providing opportunities for North Carolina high school students to explore STEM - science, technology, engineering and math - careers and pathways.

"We are excited to support the work of TEAM 3737, Roto Raptors, inspiring the next generation of Duke Energy employees and customers. We are proud to sponsor this hard working organization and wish them much success in the current competition season." Millie Chalk, district manager of Duke Energy Progress.

Anne Finch, lead coach for the local team, expressed appreciation for the funds, which provide the team the opportunity to compete at the highest levels.

"Our team, which is now about one-third female, received hands-on training in the fall in preparation for the kick-off in January of FIRST Power Up, this year's game," she said. "The students were excited to use the skills they have learned to design and build a new robot."

FRC Team 3737 will be participating in the FIRST North Carolina State Championship on April 7-8 at Campbell University's Gore Arena in the John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center. This event is open to the public. For more information visit www.firstnorthcarolina.org.