FIRST Robotics opens its 2019 season with the FIRST Robotics Finger Lakes Regional Kick Off in January. Thirty-six local teams and more than 600 students, teachers and mentors will gather to participate in morning workshops and then view the kickoff telecast revealing the details of this year’s game. 

This year’s theme, FIRST Launch “Destination: Deep Space,” commemorates  the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. The competition offers teenagers an opportunity to be inspired by technology’s capabilities as the teenagers from the 1960s, said Glen Pearson, Finger Lakes Regional director.

“The competition themes and technology challenges continue to be both interesting and real tests of students’ abilities to work well together and build robots,” Pearson said. “We can relate to the space race and the impression it made on generations of people; what kind of impression will technology make on this generation of young people? FIRST Robotics encourages them to build the skills they’ll need to answer that question.”

FIRST—For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology—also referred to as a “sport for the mind,” began in 1989 to spark interest in science through solving engineering problems in a friendly, yet intense competition. Both FIRST and NASA mark significant milestones in 2019 with the moon landing in 1968 and FIRST celebrating 30 years of competitions.  

The Finger Lakes Regional competition takes place March 13-16, 2019, at the Gordon Field House at Rochester Institute of Technology. Of the 50 teams registered, the majority are from New York with several others from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Also registered are five international teams from Canada, Brazil, Mexico and China.

Winners from regional competitions across the globe participate in the 2019 FIRST Championships April 17-20, 2019, in Houston and April 24-27, 2019, in Detroit. Winners from the Finger Lakes Regional will compete in Detroit.