University News

Hundreds of High School Students Return to Western New England University for FIRST Robotics Competition

Published: March 21, 2022 | Categories: All News, Engineering

The Challenge: Transportation

Rapid React logo

More than 675 students had the opportunity to compete in the FIRST® Robotics District competition held at Western New England University (WNE) on March 19 - 20. Manchester NH based FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) designs accessible, innovative science programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering.

The theme this year is transportation. Thirty-eight teams of high school students from all six New England states took part in "Rapid React" a competition presented by the Boeing Company that challenged teams to build a 125lb. machine which can efficiently and effectively move cargo. The challenge was for students to get a hands-on experience and a better understanding of how cargo is transported whether by land, sea, or air.

"The goal is to keep inspiring new generations of thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers whose work will someday build a better future," said Christian Salmon, Director of the Western New England FIRST Robotics Initiative, and Associate Professor and Department Chair of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management at Western New England University. "That generation was represented here today at the FIRST FRC competition with a limited set of instructions from FIRST, a little mentor guidance and just weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season’s challenge."

According to, the competition website, teams must use innovative engineering, creative thinking, and teamwork to reimagine the future of safe, high-speed travel, and lightning-fast deliveries to propel the next evolution of transportation forward-in this world and beyond.

"Rapid React" teams were awarded with honors for design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship, and high impact partnerships between schools, businesses, and communities.

Teams competed to earn a spot at the New England Championships being held at the Big E in April and possibly leading to the World Championship in Houston, TX.

Winners of the FIRST Robotics 2022 NE District Western NE Event include:
District Chairman’s Award: Aluminum Falcons (Robert E. Fitch High School) Groton, CT
District Engineering Inspiration Award: TechTigers (Mercy High School) Middletown, CT
District Event Winner: Aces High (Connecticut 4-H Foundation, Inc. & Windsor Locks High School & Suffield High School) Windsor Locks, CT
District Event Winner: Bobcat Robotics (South Windsor High School) South Windsor, CT
District Event Winner: LongMetal (Longmeadow High School) Longmeadow, MA
District Event Finalist: Aluminum Falcons (Robert E. Fitch High School) Groton, CT
District Event Finalist: Gus Robotics (YMCA) Meriden, CT
District Event Finalist: CyberKnights (Southington High School), Southington, CT
Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors: Bobcat Robotics (South Windsor High School) South Windsor, CT
Highest Rookie Seed: Pathfinder Tech (Pathfinder Regional Voc High School) Palmer, MA
Judges’ Award: Colonials (Shrewsbury High School) Shrewsbury, MA
Rookie All Star Award: Alpha Centauri (Minuteman Career & Tech High School), Lexington, MA
Rookie Inspiration Award: Pathfinder Tech (Pathfinder Regional Voc High School) Palmer, MA
Entrepreneurship Award: Team MAX (Wolcott High School) Wolcott, CT
Team Spirit Award: Gongoliers (Ponaganset High School) Foster and Glocester, RI
Excellence in Engineering Award: Gus Robotics (YMCA) Meriden, CT
Gracious Professionalism Award: CyberKnights (Southington High School), Southington, CT
Creativity Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation: Cyber Colonels (Ledyard High School) Ledyard, CT
Quality Award: IBOTS (Stafford Technical Center) Rutland, VT
Innovation in Control Award: Dragons (4-H & University High School) Hartford, CT
Autonomous Award sponsored by Ford: Aces High (Connecticut 4-H Foundation, Inc. & Windsor Locks High School & Suffield High School), Windsor Locks, CT
Imagery Award in honor of Jack Kamen: Aetos Dios (Eagles of Zeus) (East Catholic High School) Manchester, CT

Since its beginning, FIRST has significantly improved students’ attitudes toward math, science, and teamwork. Students who participate show increased interest in pursuing internships and employment opportunities in science and engineering, especially with companies that are involved with FIRST. Participants and alumni of FIRST programs gain access to exclusive scholarships, internships, and other opportunities that create connections and open pathways to a wide variety of careers.

Western New England University awards its own FIRST Robotics scholarship automatically to any student, regardless of area of academic interest, who has participated in one or more of the FIRST competitions.