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FIRST Long Island Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition Celebrates 25 Years

Forty-Nine Teams from Long Island, NYC and the World to Compete at Hofstra University for CRESCENDO Presented by Haas

Area students are excited about the 25th annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Long Island Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition, which will be held in a double-elimination style, with tournaments March 22 to 23 at Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex. Presented by FIRST Long Island, Zebra Technologies and Optimum, this regional features 49 teams from across Long Island, New York City, Canada, Chinese Taipei and France. These students, aged 14 to 18, utilize robots to compete in alliance-style tournament rounds under this year’s challenge, dubbed CRESCENDO Presented by Haas. Long Island residents are encouraged to attend to support these local high school students.

The FIRST Long Island Regionals feature teams of high school-aged students competing in a cooperative tournament-style robotics competition. Guided by their mentors, students rely on their skills in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) to compete for honors and recognition that reward design excellence, competitive play and sportsmanship. This high-energy event further emphasizes the importance of high-impact partnerships between students, universities, businesses and communities.

In CRESCENDO Presented by Haas, two competing alliances are invited to score notes, amplify their speaker, harmonize onstage and take the spotlight before time runs out. Alliances earn additional rewards for meeting specific scoring thresholds and for cooperating with their opponents.

This year marks the 25th season of the FIRST Robotics Competition supported by FIRST Long Island’s late Founder Fred Breithut, using his vision for the students of Long Island and the innovative program developed through FIRST. Mr. Breithut, a former educator, founded FIRST Long Island in 1984 to address the gap between the skills needed by Long Island’s business community and the relevant preparation provided by local school districts. In the first 15 years of its operation, FIRST Long Island formed over 100 successful partnerships between high schools and local businesses.

The presenting co-sponsors of this year’s competition are Zebra Technologies and Optimum, both long-term supporters of FIRST and FIRST Long Island. Zebra Technologies provides industry-tailored, end-to-end technological solutions for retail/ecommerce, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, healthcare and other industries. Optimum is the local provider of Internet, mobile, phone and TV services.

The event is free to the public. Those in attendance are encouraged to cheer on their home teams and visit the teams’ pit areas to see firsthand how these students are able to program, repair and operate their robots. Visitors can also meet with FIRST Long Island representatives, who can explain to them the different tournaments the organization presents and how one can form a team.

“The FIRST Long Island Regional is an amazing way for students to showcase their talents,” says Larry Toonkel, Regional Director, FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST Long Island. “We are very excited to be celebrating 25 years of FIRST and hosting teams from Long Island, New York City and around the world at this competition that puts the arts back into STEM to create a STEAM event.”

“We are certain that this event will provide a great opportunity for teams to live the FIRST experience and have a chance to advance to the Championships,” adds Bertram Dittmar, Executive Director, FIRST Long Island. “To accomplish these goals, we’ll need the continued support of our valued schools, families, volunteers and donors.”

FIRST Long Island, along with Zebra Technologies and Optimum, are the title sponsors of the FIRST Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. Captain of Innovation-level sponsors include Canon, Cradle of Aviation Museum, Farmingdale State College, FESTO, Investors Bank, Northrop Grumman, PMMI, PSEG Long Island, Schenck USA, School Construction Consultants, Inc., SCOPE Educational Services, Stony Brook University, TTM Technologies, the U.S. Army and the United States Navy. Friends of the Future-level sponsors include accessLinx, Inc., Brookhaven Science Associates, Inc. (BNL), the Dittmar Family, the Engineers Joint Committee of Long Island (EJCLI), Mary Ellen Freeley, Idress Hamid, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Yacov Shamash and the Stern Family.

For more information on FIRST Long Island or the FIRST Robotics Competition, please visit


About FIRST®
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $30 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST®, go to

About FIRST® Long Island

FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Long Island is a fully volunteer-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the goal to enable students to find their passion, while preparing them for the challenges facing the 21st-century workforce.

FIRST Long Island evolved from School-Business Partnerships of Long Island (SBPLI). In 1984, Frederick Breithut had the vision and foresight to recognize the need to develop partnerships between local high schools and businesses. His goal was to provide students with practical experience and curriculum development, while helping the business community develop its future workforce, which resulted in the formation of over 100 partnerships. To further this mission, in 1999, SBPLI partnered with FIRST to administer and bring FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) to Long Island. The Long Island robotics program featured just eight FRC high school teams culminating in the inaugural FRC Regional event. Since then, the FRC Long Island Regional has grown to two events with over 80 teams consisting of over 2,000 students competing each year. FIRST Long Island also hosts the FIRST LEGO League programs, in which over 2,000 elementary and middle school students from Nassau and Suffolk Counties take part each year. In 2016, the FIRST Tech Challenge was added to its roster of programs, roughly impacting another 500 students on Long Island.

Now doing business as FIRST Long Island, the organization seeks to expand its impact by strengthening relationships with students, volunteers, and sponsors while helping to connect students and alumni to internship and job opportunities. FIRST Long Island continues to use robots as the vehicle to “build students“ and prepare them for the future.

For more information about the programs, find out about volunteering, or to learn how to become a sponsor, visit

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