Game On for Students in FIRST Robotics

The suspense was thick this morning at the Polytechnic Institute of [NYU] in Brooklyn, where representatives of 37 local high schools packed into a standing room-only auditorium to learn how they’d be spending the next six weeks. One thing they knew for sure: The end result would be a robot. But would it have to fling balls? Climb obstacles? Pull trailers? The possibilities seemed endless. “We don’t really know what to expect,” said Matt Wong, a member of a rookie team from the city’s Hunter College High School.

The 1531 veteran teams returning to the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) know anything goes when it comes to the rules for the annual game, which change every year. And that’s what makes it fun. “I like the challenge so it doesn’t matter what game it is,” said Michael Rodriguez, a senior at Queens Vocational Technical High School, the defending regional champions. Last year’s FRC game, Lunacy, involved robots with slippery wheels playing on a slick surface, and Rodriguez’s job was to fix and maintain his team’s robot. “All of the collisions gave me a lot of work to do,” he said.

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