Connecticut to Host Largest First Robotics Competition in New England

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For Immediate Release
February 12, 2009

Sue Glasspiegel, Regional Director, 860-651-9994
Katie Blint, CT Convention Center (CTCC), Communications, 860-728-2605
Laura Soll, Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau, 860-688-4499

Connecticut to Host Largest First Robotics Competition in New England

Nearly 1,500 Students From 10 States Expected at FIRST Robotics Competition March 27-28

HARTFORD, CT – The largest FIRST Robotics Competition in New England will take place in Hartford March 27-28, when nearly 1,500 high school students from 10 states gather to compete in the Connecticut Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition at the Connecticut Convention Center.

It is the fourth year this international competition has been held in the Connecticut Convention Center. During the competition, teams of students will compete for honors and recognition that reward design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship and outreach toward schools, area businesses and communities. The teams also compete for spots at the FIRST Championship Event, to be held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, April 16-18.

The event is the culmination of a hectic six-week period in which the students must design, build, test and ship out their robot to the competition site. The competition is also a fitting test of the skills developed by Connecticut’s future workforce, whether the students eventually pursue technical or non-technical work.

“Connecticut’s ability to compete in a rapidly changing global economy rests on the success of programs like this,” said event chairman Michael Sperber, a program manager at Hamilton Sundstrand.

“We’ve seen students with interests in a wide range of career fields and functions benefit from FIRST programs,” Sperber said. “They work alongside professional engineers and they’re inspired to fill a broad range of needs in high tech fields from manufacturing to engineering, project management, finance, marketing, communications and human resources.”

Research has shown that FIRST participants are:

  • 50% more likely to attend college
  • Twice as likely to go on to major in science and engineering
  • Three times as likely to major specifically in engineering, and four times more likely to expect to pursue a career in engineering than a comparison group of high school students with similar backgrounds

According to Sperber, “the fact that this program has grown over the past 15 years also indicates that more and more Connecticut employers are beginning to understand that their investment in CT FIRST is a way to develop their own internal workforce.”

The Connecticut Regional Competition will host 63 teams of students, teachers and mentors this year, the largest competition that the state has seen in its 11 years of hosting the event. The Regional is also one of the largest of 41 competitions world-wide. Organizers have been working with the CTCC and the Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau on the details for the past year.

This year’s game, “LUNACY,” will present a series of challenges in which the students’ robots will compete on a 54-by-27 foot low-friction field that simulates the moon’s surface. Points can be scored by collecting “moon rocks”, “empty cells” and “super cells” and loading them into opponents’ robots.

FIRST Connecticut Regional volunteers come from some of the most highly regarded organizations in the area, including United Technologies, Gerber Scientific, Northeast Utilities, ebm-papst Inc., Goodrich, Inc., and Dominion Power. These businesses provide valuable resources including time and talent from professional mentors, services, equipment, and volunteers as well as financial contributions.

Additionally, high school juniors and seniors participating in FIRST programs are eligible to apply for more than $9 million in scholarships provided by companies as well as leading universities nationwide.

The public is welcome to attend this free – and very unique – event at the Connecticut Convention Center, 100 Columbus Boulevard in Hartford. It runs from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.

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 the support of many of the world’s most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge for high-school students, the FIRST LEGO® League for children 9-14 years old, and the Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year-olds. To learn more about FIRST, go to

About the Connecticut Regional
Celebrating their 11th year in Connecticut, the FIRST Robotics Competition Connecticut Regional is the oldest and longest continually running FIRST event in New England. The Connecticut Regional is made possible by generous contributions from United Technologies, and Northeast Utilities as well as support from the CBIA, the Hartford MetroHartford Alliance the Connecticut Technology Council and the Connecticut Science Center.