ABC4 Utah

FIRST Robotics Competition returns to Utah; local students take part

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) — This week, high school students from around the nation will go head-to-head in the Utah Regional FIRST Robotics Competition on Friday, March 3, and Saturday, March 4, at the Maverik Center in West Valley City.

The returning annual competition, which is free and open to the public, allows students from forty-four high school teams to both design and build robots meant to perform specific tasks.

Each year introduces a different theme for the competition. For this year’s game, called “Charged Up,” a focus is placed on the importance of renewable energy in our modern world. In it, robots will be controlled both autonomously and by students to move game pieces onto various docking stations on the playing field.

“We’re excited to see what the teams come up with to meet this season’s challenges,” said Utah Regional FIRST Robotics Director Chelsey Short. “Our competitions are cool because teams compete in cooperative alliances of three robots against three, so they can be on the same alliance with a team for one round and competing against them the next round. The competitive cooperation creates a dynamic we call ‘coopertition,’ and it’s just awesome to witness.” 

Teams that win this Utah regional competition, and selected award winners, will move on to the FIRST national championship, hosted in Houston from April 19-22.

Coach Bryan Holder and his North Sanpete High School Robo Hawks, comprised of three talented students, have been experiencing the challenges of building a robot for the first time.

Despite any challenges, the team is excited to build and compete with their robot — even receiving some help from engineering firm Jacobsen Innovations and financial support from Motorola and the U.S. Department of Defense.

“At the very beginning, it was hard to see what this would all look like, but once we caught that vision it has been nothing but a great experience,” says Holder. “One of the students said he would rather be here doing this than anything else. This has been a way to express themselves in a way no one has been able to do at this school.” 

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition aims to promote learning among high school students around the nation whilst also shaping a new generation of engineers, programmers, and scientists.

This event has been co-organized by the University of Utah’s John and Marcia Price College of Engineering.

For more information, including the calendar and results, visit the FIRST website.