Cleared for Takeoff: RIT hosts 2022 FIRST Robotics Finger Lakes Regional March 10-12

Rapid React features high-speed travel and flight challenges as part of the newest FIRST Robotics game

A. Sue Weisler

The FIRST Robotics Finger Lakes Regional returns to RIT’s Gordon Field House for a two-day competition on March 11 and 12. Thirty-seven high school teams from the area are expected to compete. Pictured is a team from 2018.

Robotics teams will take flight and land at the Gordon Field House at Rochester Institute of Technology on March 10-12 for the 2022 FIRST Robotics Finger Lakes Regional competition. Thirty-seven regional teams and more than 600 students, teachers, and mentors will gather to participate in the annual challenge FIRST Rapid React.

This year’s theme and game involves re-imagining high-speed travel and lightning-fast deliveries. The game field, also referred to as a tarmac, involves robot teams moving cargo balls into varied levels of storage hubs and traversing different rungs in the central hangar for team points.

“The competition themes and technology challenges continue to be both interesting and real tests of students’ abilities to work well together and build robots to compete in this year’s challenge,” said Rick Bryant, Finger Lakes Regional chairperson. “High speed travel and flight are rapidly changing industries needing skilled engineers to advance and coordinate the technology used to build faster, more reliable, and sustainable transportation systems. FIRST Robotics provides an exciting way to start building the kinds of skills they’ll need for those industries and others.”

Bryant has been involved with FIRST Robotics for 26 years, as event chair, judge advisor, and mentor, and has seen the event grow to include student teams from across New York state to guest teams from China and Mexico. Although the pandemic curtailed onsite competitions in 2021, FIRST Robotics still provided multiple technology learning modules and resources for teams and for the K-12 schools through its At Home Challenges. The competition was modified so that teams were able to compete virtually—showcasing robot designs and skills competitions.

“The students and mentors were still a part of the FIRST community and practiced gracious professionalism in light of a national challenge. Being able to have an on-site event once again is great. There is nothing like the excitement of the competitions,” said Bryant ’94 MS (computer science), a program manager with L3Harris’ Space and Airborne Systems.

More information about the FIRST Robotics Finger Lakes Regional Competition can be found on the Upstate NY FIRST website and RIT’s Government and Community Relations website.

All participants—students, mentors, teachers, family, and other guests—will be asked to comply with RIT’s COVID Safety Guidelines. Masks will be required as will proof of vaccinations. The Large-Scale Indoor Public Events Guidelines are available online.

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