Ready Your Contraption: FIRST Robotics season kicks off Jan. 7 at Spencerport High School

New competitive robotics game announced by FIRST’s Dean Kamen via nationwide telecast

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FIRST Robotics will reveal the 2017 game for its annual competition at a kickoff event at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, 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.

Going into its 27th year, FIRST Robotics has given only hints of the new competition game for 2017 called FIRST STEAMWORKS, with a motif of unusual contraptions, gadgets—and robots. The actual challenge will be described at the kickoff event, said Glen Pearson, Finger Lakes regional director for Upstate New York.

FIRST Robotics continues to provide student-competitors with interesting, multi-faceted challenges in building the robots and competing on the game playing field, while at the same time encouraging students to build 21st century life skills. Last year’s event consisted of castles, towers and draw bridge obstacles. This year’s teaser about contraptions and goggles has the teams very interested in what they’ll face this year,” said Pearson.

Kamen will describe the new game and its unique design challenges to the more than 3,000 national and international teams, including the 33 teams from the Rochester/Upstate New York Region who will attend the local kickoff. Regional teams participate in kickoff activities, listen to guest speakers, and after the game reveal, receive the robot kit-of-parts and equipment for the new season. They will also be able to see a demonstration set-up of the competition field in preparation for the regional event.

Teams have six weeks to build robots for the Finger Lakes regional competition that takes place March 16-18 at the Gordon Field House and Activities Center at Rochester Institute of Technology.

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 participate in the 2017 FIRST Championships April 19-22 in Houston and April 26-29 in St. Louis. This year, FIRST will hold two championships in order to give more teams a chance to qualify and participate, Pearson explained. Each championship will be open to 400 teams that qualify in their local competition. There were 13 Upstate teams at the 2016 championship, including the Finney Falcons (Penfield, N.Y.) and Ranger Robotics (Spencerport, N.Y.), that were part of the finalist alliance.

Both the kickoff on Jan. 7 and the regional event in March are free and open to the public. More information about the Finger Lakes Region FIRST Competition can be found at and