Build Your Champion: FIRST Robotics Finger Lakes Regional Kick-Off event takes place Jan. 9

Challenges of the 2016 game FIRST STRONGHOLD to be revealed at new kick-off location at Spencerport High School

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A. Sue Weisler

Teams competing in the First Robotics Competition Finger Lakes Regional will learn more about this year’s competitive game STRONGHOLD at the Kick-Off telecast on Saturday, Jan. 9.

FIRST Robotics will reveal the 2016 game for its annual competition at a Kick-Off event at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9 at Spencerport High School’s auditorium. The live, worldwide telecast will include FIRST founder Dean Kamen along with a group of supporters from industry, academia, government and entertainment.

The national robotics organization, going into its 25th year, has only given hints of the new competition game for 2016 called FIRST STRONGHOLD, with a motif of knights, heraldry, castles—and robots. The actual challenge will be described at the kick off event, said Glen Pearson, Finger Lakes regional director.

“All teams usually have to wait until the day of the kick-off to learn about the game and this year, the hints and visuals have kept us all guessing. But that’s exciting too as the competitions are always challenging. This year will be no different,” he said.

Kamen will describe the new game and its unique design challenges to the more than 3,000 national and international teams, including 50 from the Rochester/Upstate New York Region and Canada. Teams receive the robot kits and equipment for the new season at the kick-off and will be able to see a demonstration set-up of the competition field in preparation for the regional event.

Teams will have six weeks to build robots for the Finger Lakes regional competition March 23–26 at the Gordon Field House and Activities Center at Rochester Institute of Technology.

FIRST collaborated with the legendary storytellers of Walt Disney Imagineering to create an animated teaser for the 2016 FIRST Robotics Competition game: FIRST STRONGHOLD. According to FIRST: “Imagineers are masterful at blending storytelling with creativity and innovation to create totally immersive and emotionally engaging experiences for millions of guests around the world. FIRST has taken this approach to heart, working to create a 2016 experience that is exciting and meaningful. The teaser is intended to inspire a new audience and inspire new teams this season.”

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), sometimes 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. Winners from regional competitions across the country will participate in the national event April 27-30, 2016, in St. Louis. Teams such as Churchville Chili High School and Wilson Magnet High School from the Finger Lakes Regional have gone on to compete successfully at this event that features 600 teams from around the world.

Both the kick-off on Jan. 9 and the regional event in March are free and open to the public, Pearson added. More information about the Finger Lakes Region FIRST Competition can be found at