A raging robot war with metallic catapults and blockades will turn the Maverik Center into a battlefield this Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19.

More than 40 high school teams from Utah, the West and beyond will meet at the West Valley City arena, 3200 S. Decker Lake Drive, for the annual Utah Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. FIRST means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. The event is free and open to the public, and media coverage is welcomed.

‘FIRST students have a unique opportunity to invent, practice teamwork, and run a business, all while using real-world hardware and working with mentors from industry,” says Mark Minor, Utah regional chair and University of Utah associate professor of mechanical engineering. “As a result, FIRST students are better prepared for college, and companies seek them out after graduation. I wish every high school student had the opportunity to participate in FIRST Robotics.”

Teams that win the Utah regional competition and select award winners will move on to the FIRST world championship April 27-30 in St. Louis.

In all, more than 3,100 teams from 24 countries will participate in this year’s global competition, now in its 25th year.

The Utah regional event is cosponsored by the University of Utah’s College of Engineering, the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development STEM Action Center, Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, L-3 Communications and Tesoro Corp.

This year’s competition involves student teams building robots for a game called FIRST Stronghold, in which robots both defend and attack castles by catapulting “boulders” (really rubber balls) at the enemy. The mechanized attackers must break through defenses, retrieve the balls and score points by launching the balls through windows in the castle towers. During the last 20 seconds of the round, the robots must surround and scale the tower to capture it. The robots must act autonomously during part of the game and are piloted by students during other segments.

This year’s regional contest caps an intense six weeks for teams designing, building, programming and testing robots from kits without instructions. High schools participating in the Utah regional event come from as far away as Florida, Hawaii and Alberta, Canada. Twenty-one of the teams are from Utah.

The FIRST Robotics Competition promotes science and technology among high school students, creating a new generation of engineers, programmers and scientists.

“The FIRST Robotics Competition has done as much as any other program to increase interest in engineering among high school students,” said Richard Brown, dean of the U’s College of Engineering. “Competition is motivating, and these teams work very hard as they learn about not only robotics but also electronics, materials, wireless communication, computer programming, problem solving and teamwork.”


Schedule and media materials

Opening ceremonies: Friday and Saturday, 8:30 to 9 a.m.

Qualification matches: Friday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5:45 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon.

A scene from the 2014 Utah Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. The 2016 event is March 18-19 at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah.

PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Hixson, University of Utah College of Engineering

A scene from the 2014 Utah Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. The 2016 event is March 18-19 at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah.

Final rounds: Saturday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Awards ceremonies: Friday, 5:45 to 6:15 p.m. and Saturday, 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Pits and machine shop: Opens Friday and Saturday at 8 a.m.


For more information and to view the FIRST Stronghold demo, please visit www.utfrc.utah.edu/


A full press packet with additional materials, including a description of the game and fun facts about FIRST, will be available at the volunteer desk at the Maverik Center beginning Thursday, March 17. Digital copies of the packet are available at: www.utfrc.utah.edu/press-kit/



Media Contacts

Jared BerrettUtah regional director, FIRST Robotics Competitition
Office: 435-678-8189

Mark Minorassociate professor of mechanical engineering, Utah Regional Robotics event chair
Office: 801-587-7771

Deb Williamsadministrative program coordinator, mechanical engineering
Office: 801-581-3605

Vincent Horiuchipublic relations associate, College of Engineering
Office: (801) 585-7499 Mobile: (801) 556-5187

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