CWU News

CWU Hosts Steampunk-themed FIRST Robotics Competition March 16-18

More than 1,000 high school students from Portland to Spokane, along with parents, and volunteers will fill Central Washington University's Nicholson Pavilion this weekend for the FIRST Robotics Pacific Northwest Competition.

This year's competition features Steamworks, an intricate steampunk theme, in which assorted robots must work together on several tasks to get points and win rounds, as seen in this YouTube video: 


"The College of the Sciences supports FIRST and our students and faculty are heavily involved in volunteer roles," said Dannica Price, CWU's COTS engagement program manager, and lead coordinator for CWU. "We will have 38 teams that range from 10 to more than 40 students. It takes about 90 volunteers to support this event for the three days."

Students are challenged to, among other things, raise funds through sponsorships, develop a team, and build and program 150-pound, industrial-size robots. Dedicated mentor volunteers provide guidance and instruction in both technical and non-technical areas.

Teams will begin arriving at CWU March 16, when the "pit" will be open at 5:00 p.m. for students to set up. Opening ceremonies will begin at 10:30 a.m. March 17, and qualification matches will start at 11:00 a.m. The competition will continue on Saturday starting at 9:00 a.m., including the March of Mascots. Final rounds will begin at 1:15 p.m. There will be an awards ceremony at 4:15 p.m. The event is free and open to the public; parking is free in CWU lots after 4:30 p.m. and on weekends.

A number of different high schools from Washington are represented, including Spokane, Thorp, Walla Walla, Maple Valley, Olympia, and Mabton. A complete list of high school teams and their cities can be found at

The teams are a part of Washington FIRST which "supports and engages today's tech-native youth with a league of their own, inspiring them to build on their passions and preparing them to be the STEM leaders of tomorrow." According to founder Dean Kamen, FIRST (For Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology), " . . . is more than robots. The robots are a vehicle for students to learn important life skills."

For more information about FIRST Robotics, go to

Photo of the 2016 Tournament Courtesy of FIRST Washington

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,
March 15, 2016