LEAP 2019


In its fourth season, the Linking Engineering and Philanthropy (LEAP) 2019 competition has evolved into an open-ended design competition for FIRST Teams using their design talents for social good. At the finale on February 9th, teams present their designs to a panel of judges consisting of representatives from Autodesk and other engineering/design professionals, and showcase their work at an expo following the presentations. Prizes sponsored by Autodesk, totaling $6,000, will be awarded to the top three teams.  Since the competition takes place before the first FRC district competition, teams will have an opportunity to include this work in their Chairman’s and Engineering Inspiration pitches.

LEAP gives FIRST Robotics teams a chance to put their skills to use in the real world, and shows high school students that they don't have to wait until after college to make a real a difference in their community through engineering.



All FRC teams are invited to participate in the LEAP 2019 competition, as are teams from their schools. Some teams use this as a recruiting tool for students interested in engineering (but not competitive robotics).  Each school/FRC team may register a maximum of three (3) LEAP teams. Registration is free until November 1st, after which point there will be a $100 fee to register a team. Only registered teams will be eligible for prizes. The Autodesk prize money goes to the registered FRC team, not the individual students. These projects are perfect for college applications, however.

Client Criteria

Unlike previous LEAP competitions, teams identify their own target client for this year’s competition.  LEAP is about teams using their design skills for social good, so the target client should be similarly focused. Clients can be:

  • Any non-profit

  • Government entities

  • Schools

  • Hospitals or other medical organizations

More competitions

Once a team has created their project, why stop at just LEAP? Click here to see other competitions that you can enter alongside LEAP. Team 1540 has won over 50k through these competitions throughout the years.

Photos from LEAP 2018

What is LEAP?

FIRST Robotics provides opportunities for high school students to develop interest and skills in engineering; however, in the heat of the competition, the primary intent of this program can be obscured. As a result, we developed a program that encourages students to apply their engineering skills to real world problems, and to make a difference in their communities.

Linking Engineering and Philanthropy (LEAP) is an off season event for FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams designed to get students to apply their engineering skills to real-world problems in their communities. Over the course of a three month competition beginning in September, teams research, design, and prototype a solution to a given humanitarian problem provided by a partnering nonprofit. As FIRST likes to say, “It’s more than just robots.” 

By the end of a LEAP competition, teams will have fleshed out a tangible product or design to improves their community, but LEAP has an impact far beyond the single invention that teams come up with for the competition. Once teams have competed in LEAP, they will be able to further their project and implement in their communities on a larger scale. Through LEAP, students will have the necessary experience in developing and inventing for their own community, what we like to call, "Community Engineering."

The Beginning of LEAP: Our experience with projects like JuiceBox inspired us to connect yet again with the FRC community to address a new issue: other teams have the skills to engineer for their communities, but don’t know where to start. Using the same strategy that has worked so well with our BunnyBots and Girls’ Generation events, in 2014 we partnered with Autodesk and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) to create Linking Engineering and Philanthropy (LEAP), a new preseason event to help FIRST teams apply their skills to make a difference. During LEAP, teams spend four days responding to a community engineering challenge. This prompt supplied removes the daunting task of starting a project and instead gives teams a scaffolding within which they apply their FIRST skills to make a difference. In 2014 Teams designed an exhibit for OMSI, and one of the winning teams used their experience and the confidence they gained to propel their own community-focused project the next year. Although LEAP ran into funding issues after the pilot competition, we worked hard to bring it back. In 2017 LEAP returned partnering with Autodesk and OMSI once again. LEAP 2018 partnered with Mercy Corps and Autodesk to create an event that stretched from September to December. LEAP 2019 is already in the planning stages.