Annual FIRST Robotics Competition Takes Place at RIT March 6-7

Nearly 50 teams enter largest field of participants in regional contest

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Hundreds of boisterous competitors and distinctive robots will come together at the Gordon Field House on the campus of Rochester Institute of Technology for the 2009 Finger Lakes Regional FIRST Robotics competition. Nearly 50 high school teams from across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Ontario, Canada will participate in LUNACY, the name of this year’s competition.

The Rochester FIRST competition, celebrating its fifth anniversary at RIT, opens at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 6, with preliminary rounds. The final round of seeded matches begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 7. Awards will be given at 4:30 p.m. that day. The event is free for both days.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international sporting and technology competition, with events taking place in all 50 states and around the world. Winners from regional competitions meet in Atlanta in April for the championship. “Today, with the challenges of strengthening our fragile global economy, combating the effect of climate change, replacing fossil-fueled energy production, and addressing worldwide public health concerns, companies continue to value innovation, especially now, and FIRST is inspiring the innovators of tomorrow,” says Ron Borden, director of the Finger Lakes Regional FIRST competition.

Four new area teams take the field this year: Canandaigua, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and Spencerport high schools. Each team consists of players, mentored by former FIRST competitors and sponsored by professionals in area technology and engineering corporations.

This year’s competition boasts one of the most sophisticated drive systems of the 18-year-old international competition. Teams of payload specialists will attempt to move their robots over a new, low friction field in an attempt to get the most “moon rocks” into an opponent’s trailer.

Guest speakers for the event include: Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, Rochester City School District Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard, Terry Taber, chief technical officer, Eastman Kodak and RIT President William Destler. Also attending will be New York State Sen. Jim Alesi and longtime FIRST Finger Lakes Regional competition supporter, Ron Zarrella, former chairman, Bausch & Lomb.

NOTE: A live cablecast of the FIRST Robotics regional event will be aired on Time Warner, Channel 4 on both days. A technical crew from the Rochester City School District is helping to produce the program.

The complete event schedule can be found at: