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Utah Robots Battle to the Top

A student fine tunes his team's robot prior to Utah's 2012 regional FIRST robotics competition in Salt Lake City.

March 18, 2013 – More than 1,000 Utah high school students will put robots they designed and built to the test in a regional robotics competition co-sponsored by the University of Utah’s College of Engineering.

This regional competition is open to the public and news media and runs Thursday, March 21 through Saturday, March 23 at the Maverik Center, 3200 South Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City, Utah.

The culmination of a six-week competition named For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, this event involves 19 teams from Utah and a total of 44 teams from the region, which includes nine other western states. Some 52,000 high school students will participate in similar regional competitions worldwide. The national championships will be held April 24-27 in St. Louis.

This year, students and robots will engage in a game called “Ultimate Ascent,” in which two groups compete against one another by having their robots try to throw flying discs into goals as quickly as possible during the two-minute, 15-second match. Each group includes three robots (from three teams) throwing discs at the goals, which are set at varied heights. Higher goals are worth more points. Each match ends with the robots attempting to climb up pyramids located near the middle of the field, and each individual robot earns additional points depending on how high it climbs.

The regional event begins with robot inspections and practice rounds on Thursday, March 21, followed by the competition and awards ceremony on Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23. Portions of the event likely to be of most interest to media are:

  • Friday, March 22, 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. – Opening ceremony and qualification matches
  • Friday, March 22, 5:45 p.m. – Friday awards ceremony for first-round matches
  • Saturday, March 23, 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Qualification matches and final rounds
  • Saturday, March 23, 4:30 p.m. – Final rounds award ceremony

“This is a great chance for kids to learn real-life science, engineering and business skills and get a jump start on college. The teams create amazing robots and it’s great for kids to see the robots compete and to visit with the teams,” says event organizer Mark Minor, a University of Utah associate professor of mechanical engineering.

In addition to the University of Utah, the competition also is sponsored by the Larry H. Miller Group, Platt Electric, Micron Foundation, L-3 Communications and the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

More information about the competition is available at: