FIRST robotics game revealed at competition kickoff

MANCHESTER – FIRST founder Dean Kamen launched the 2016 FIRST Robotics Competition season recently with the kickoff of a new robotics game called "FIRST Stronghold" before a crowd of more than 1,000 at Southern New Hampshire University, home of FIRST headquarters.

The crowd included Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Gov. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.

More than 75,000 high school students on more than 3,100 teams at 114 venues around the globe joined the kickoff via live broadcast hosted by Comcast NBCUniversal.

"One of the amazing things about FIRST is that everyone involved gets more out of it than they put into it," said Kamen, president of Deka Research & Development.

"The kids get opportunities they’d never get elsewhere; it might give them career options they’d never thought about. The teachers see kids who become passionate about learning and the relevance of technology and math. The corporations are creating their own futures.

"Most of what I get out of it is being part of an incredible community. We get to be part of a group that is creating the future of the world."

In "FIRST Stronghold," two alliances of three robots each are 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.

At the kickoff, teams were shown the "FIRST Stronghold" game field and challenge details for the first time, and received a kit of parts made up of motors, batteries, control system components, construction materials and a mix of additional automation components, with limited instructions. Working with adult mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge.

Once these young inventors build a robot, their teams will participate in one or more of the 118 regional and district events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration and the determination of the students.

To find FIRST Robotics Competition events and/or teams in your area, visit