SUNY Poly and FIRST® to Host Major Central New York Regional Robotics Competition

SUNY Poly and FIRST® to Host Major Central New York Regional Robotics Competition

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 10:45
In the News
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For Release:          Immediate – November 28, 2017

Contact:                 Dave Dellecese, Public Affairs Specialist ­

                        (315) 792-7307 |


SUNY Poly and FIRST® to Host Major Central New York Regional Robotics Competition

Prestigious Selection for International FIRST Event Expected to Draw Thousands of
People to the Region from Around the World;

As Significant Event Planning Begins, Event Sponsors, Team Mentors,
and Volunteers are Being Urged to Contribute to the Competition’s Success


Utica, NY – A world-renowned, multi-day robotics competition is coming to SUNY Polytechnic Institute and the Mohawk Valley this March, and it will bring thousands of people to the area along with it.


For years, SUNY Polytechnic Institute and the Mohawk Valley have been home to FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology) robotics teams, made up of students who travel across the state and the country, developing critical science and engineering skills through engagement in exciting mentor-based robotics programs. 


However, this is the first time that the Utica campus will host this high-level competition.


The Central New York 2018 Regional FIRST Robotics Competition will be held March 2-4 in the Wildcat Field House on the Utica campus of SUNY Poly. The event is expected to bring 2,500 students in grades 9-12 to the campus and the Utica area from around the world, including their families, mentors, and volunteers.


“It is truly an honor for SUNY Polytechnic Institute to be selected to host this prestigious event on our Utica campus,” said Dr. Bahgat Sammakia, SUNY Poly Interim President. “We take great pride in our involvement with FIRST and are staunch advocates for the experiential learning it provides. Competitions like this not only draw thousands to their host regions, but also provide students with the ability to solve problems in innovative ways. Those new approaches drive the imagination, skills, and technology of tomorrow, and we are proud to be a part of it.”

SUNY Poly was selected as a host site based on its facilities and the institution’s team that is in place to execute the event. Like other potential host venues chosen by FIRST, the organization’s event management company visited and assessed SUNY Poly to make sure it was a perfect fit.

As plans for the spring event take shape, event sponsors, team mentors, and both tech and non-tech volunteers are sought. Interested sponsorship parties are asked to contact the SUNY Poly Foundation via Amanda Sagendorf at Those interested in becoming team mentors, tech or non-tech volunteers may contact SUNY Poly’s FIRST Coordinator at

“We at SUNY Poly are thrilled to bring such an important and well-recognized event to our campus and the Mohawk Valley,” said SUNY Poly Provost Dr. William Durgin. “Participation in a competitive and technologically focused competition involving robots designed and built by high school students is the perfect way to develop and expand strength in STEM. It is this type of hands-on learning that SUNY Poly is committed to as it is the cornerstone of developing the innovators of tomorrow.”


“This is going to be an amazing event for our campus, as well as for our region,” said Janice Martino, FIRST Robotics Program Coordinator at SUNY Poly. “These 40 teams of future engineers, mathematicians, and scientists bring with them their coaches, college mentors, and families. I am certain we will be able to show them what Central New York has to offer, from outstanding educational and employment opportunities to unparalleled food and cultural activities. They, in turn, are going to bring us a robotics competition the likes of which this area has never seen, consisting of 125 pound robots competing three versus three on a basketball court-sized field.”

The winning robotics team at the Central New York 2018 Regional FIRST Robotics Competition will advance to compete against the strongest FIRST teams in the world at championship events in Detroit and Houston in April 2018.

Students learning from FIRST events and programs come away with a greater appreciation of science & technology and how it can be utilized to positively impact the world around them. Teams gain valuable life skills such as brainstorming, creative problem solving, collaboration, teamwork, planning, time management, leadership, and a myriad of impressive technical skills.

Under strict rules, limited resources, and an intense six-week time limit, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team brand, hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors.

FIRST teams and competitions range in categories based on age, including:

  • FIRST LEGO League Junior (FLLJR) – capturing young curiosity of students in kindergarten through third grade and directing it toward discovering the wonders of science and technology.

  • FIRST LEGO League (FLL) – Students in grades 4 through 8 research a real-world engineering challenge and compete with LEGO-based robots of their own design.

  • FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) – Teams in grades 7 through 12 are challenged to design, build, and program a robot to accomplish various tasks with and against other robots.

  • FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) – A head-to-head competition for students in grades 9 through 12 on a special playing field with robots they have designed, built, and programmed.

The multi-day March 2018 event is an FRC event, and one of only seven regional events in New York State and more than 100 regional and district events throughout the world.

Past and present SUNY Poly engineering students act as mentors for FRC Team 5030 The Second Mouse, a regional FRC team hosted at SUNY Poly, consisting of area high school student team members. The team is open to any area high school student who applies. It currently consists of members from Utica, Whitesboro, New Hartford, and Sauquoit Valley High Schools. The March event will see the Second Mouse team compete on their home turf.

The positive impact on FIRST Robotics Competition participants is tremendous, with FIRST studies showing more than 88% of those who participate are interested in doing well in school and 92% of participants are interested in attending college. Teams learn from professional engineers; master STEM skills; learn and use sophisticated software, hardware, and power tools; improve teamwork, interpersonal, and communication skills; learn the practice of gracious professionalism; and qualify for millions of dollars in college scholarships.



About SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly)

SUNY Poly is New York’s globally recognized, high-tech educational ecosystem. SUNY Poly offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the emerging disciplines of nanoscience and nanoengineering, as well as cutting-edge nanobioscience and nanoeconomics programs at its Albany campus, and undergraduate and graduate degrees in technology, including engineering, cybersecurity, computer science, and the engineering technologies; professional studies, including business, communication, and nursing; and arts and sciences, including natural sciences, mathematics, humanities, and social sciences at its Utica/Rome campus; thriving athletic, recreational, and cultural programs, events, and activities complement the campus experience. As the world’s most advanced, university-driven research enterprise, SUNY Poly boasts billions of dollars in high-tech investments and hundreds of corporate partners since its inception. For information visit


About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $50 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to