President Rita Cheng

President Rita Cheng welcomed more than 50 teams to the FIRST Robotics regional competition, which began in the Skydome on Friday, March 11. Click above to view more photos from the event.

Northern Arizona University hosts the Arizona FIRST Robotics competition in the Skydome today, welcoming more than 50 teams from seven states.

The high school students will compete through the weekend for honors and recognition for design excellence, competitive play and sportsmanship. The teams also will be judged on high-impact partnerships between schools, businesses and communities. Students spent six weeks designing and building original robots for the competition, hosted by For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

“We share FIRST Robotics’ enthusiasm and commitment to inspiring students in STEM fields, and fostering an environment where they can excel and innovate,” said NAU President Rita Cheng, who spoke during the competition kickoff Friday morning. “NAU is a leader in preparing students for successful careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We are proud to host and support this outstanding learning initiative and collaborative team competition.”

More than 1,000 students will compete in the Skydome this weekend, vying for a spot in the championship beginning April 27 in St. Louis. More than 3,100 teams in the United States and 24 countries are expected to compete in 53 regional events and 65 district events hosted by FIRST.

The competition at the Skydome is based on alliances of three robots on a quest to breach their opponents’ fortifications, weaken their tower with boulders and capture the opposing tower. Robots score points by breaching opponents’ defenses and scoring boulders through goals in the opposing tower. During the final 20 seconds of the quest, robots may surround and scale the opposing tower to capture it.

The competition continues today until 6 p.m. Friday, March 11, and from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, in the Skydome.