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UTICA, NY – Student teams from around the world will convene March 14-16 at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s (SUNY Poly’s) Wildcat Field House in Utica for the 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition. The three-day event, hosted in partnership with SUNY Poly, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), National Grid, and Oneida County, will challenge students to use their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills in competition with other teams for a chance to land a spot at the FIRST Championships in April.

The FIRST Robotics Competition will attract approximately 3,000 people, including students in grades 9-12, mentors, parents, event volunteers, and members of the public who are traveling from across the region and the globe to the SUNY Poly campus in Utica to take part in or gain a glimpse of the hands-on scientific creativity.

“What we’re doing is way more than a competition. While not every robot can win, all of the kids do,” said Donald Bossi, president of FIRST, adding, “FIRST inspires a lifelong love of learning that is critical to persevere in today’s ever-changing workforce. We’re developing the innovators, technology leaders, and creative problem solvers who will make the world a better place.”

“SUNY Poly is excited to provide this creative learning platform to inspire young minds to explore the possibilities of robotics and technology,” SUNY Poly Interim President Dr. Grace Wang said. “Students competing in the FIRST Robotics Competition will not only experience an innovative, hands-on approach to education that is the cornerstone of SUNY Poly, but also learns more about the incredible academic opportunities that our institution offers.”

“National Grid is again proud to help students gather in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley for the 2019 Robotics Competition where their potential and successes in engineering, technology, and science can be fully realized,” National Grid Customer and Community Regional Executive Alberto Bianchetti said.

“The FIRST Robotics Competition is an event unlike any other and one that needs to be experienced first-hand in order to appreciate the amazing talent and innovation that is on display,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “Oneida County is proud to sponsor this showcase of brilliant young minds and we warmly welcome its thousands of participants and attendees from around the world to our community.”

The out-of-this-world event theme for 2019, DESTINATION: DEEP SPACE Presented by the Boeing Company, will see 40 teams become part of “two competing alliances collecting samples on planet Primus. Unpredictable terrain and weather patterns make remote robot operation essential to their mission on the planet. With only 2:30 until liftoff, the alliances must gather as many cargo pods as possible and prepare their spaceships before the next sandstorm.”

The competition’s challenges and environment change each year to provide students new ways to use different technologies and strategies to accomplish a task. What remains the same each year, however, is that each student learns that the combination of teamwork and technology leads to success. They gain skills such as creative problem solving, collaboration, planning, time management, and leadership, as well as valuable technical knowledge.

FIRST teams and competitions range in categories based on age, including:

  • FIRST LEGO League Junior (FLLJR)– capturing the young curiosity of students in kindergarten through third grade and directing it toward discovering the wonders of science and technology.
  • FIRST LEGO League (FLL)– Students in grades 4 through 8 research a real-world engineering challenge and compete with LEGO-based robots of their own design.
  • FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)– Teams in grades 7 through 12 are challenged to design, build, and program a robot to accomplish various tasks with and against other robots.
  • FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)– A head-to-head competition for students in grades 9 through 12 on a special playing field with robots they have designed, built, and programmed.

FIRST Robotics Competition participants experience significant benefits. FIRST studies show more than 88 percent of those who participate are interested in doing well in school and 92 percent of participants are interested in attending college. Teams learn from professional engineers; master STEM skills; learn and use sophisticated software, hardware, and power tools; and qualify for millions of dollars in college scholarships.

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