HENRIETTA, N.Y. -- “I just can’t contain the excitement!" Dwayne Holmes of Wilson Magnet High School said. "Even though I’m hurting with every step, I just have to keep going. I just have to see what’s going on. Fixing the robot, watching robots compete, it’s beautiful!”
The FIRST Robotics Finger Lakes Regional Championship brought thousands of students and their parents to RIT Saturday. After six weeks of construction the robots are ready to play.
49 teams from across Western New York and Canada are here hoping to make it to the championships.
FIRST organizers say it’s a chance to prove science can be as exciting sports.
“It's not a science fair," FIRST Regional Director Glen Pearson said. "We have a lot of fun. There’s a lot of excitement. We have kids dancing. They’re doing serious work and they have serious robots to play the game, but they also learn how to have a great time.”
It’s a fun way to bring in students who might not otherwise be encouraged to discover their engineering passion.
“There’s more and more girls doing this," Ashley Jaramillo of Churchville-Chili said. "And now our driver’s a girl. So I think it’s pretty amazing that the girls are now stepping up and helping build.”
Engineers say they're impressed by the next generation training for their career.
“I think they’re doing a lot more inclusivity and bringing everyone together into the sciences," Henry Pink of Hammondsport said. "And I hope it continues. Because today it all shows, and I think everybody should be proud.”
“The greatest stories are the ones from kids that never thought they could do this, didn’t understand what it was about," Pearson said. "Then they got involved in a team, and it kind of sucks you in, gets you going. And then they become leaders on the team, and learn they can not only do things but lead other people.”
“To see it all in its metal and wood glory, it is just amazing," Holmes said. "And to think that I was doubting joining for joining the Xcats or FIRST Robotics two years already after my friends were trying to get me join, I’m so happy I joined. And this isn’t just for the camera, I’m actually really excited every day about this!”
The regional champions here compete in the world wide championships in St. Louis next month.