Utah’s 2022 Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition

April 6, 2022 — After a one-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Utah FIRST Robotics Competition at the Maverik Center is back, and the student-made robots are more advanced and agile than ever!

Forty-one high school student teams from Utah and around the country (even China) will converge Friday, April 8, and Saturday, April 9, in the center’s main arena at 3200 S. Decker Lake Drive in West Valley City to compete in the annual challenge that has robots designed and built by the teens to perform specific tasks. The event, co-organized by the University of Utah’s College of Engineering, is free and open to the public. (The best place to park for news media is on the south side of the stadium near the “VIP/Will Call entrance where they can check in for a press pass. Parking is free.)

This year’s game is called “Rapid React,” and teams must process cargo for transportation. Each group is assigned a cargo color to process by retrieving their assigned cargo (large balls) and scoring it into the hub. Teams that win the Utah regional competition as well as select award winners will move on to the FIRST national championship held April 20-23 in Houston.

“We are so glad to be back in real life! Students and mentors have been hard at work as they’ve put the engineering process to the test from conceptualization to final product,” said FIRST Regional Director Chelsey Short. “The Utah Regional is a major production designed to entertain and engage the community in a celebration of STEM in a sports-like setting with music, food, mascots and random dance parties.”

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition helps promote and foster science and technology learning among the nation’s high school students, creating a new generation of engineers, programmers, and scientists. Each year, the competition takes on a different theme, and the nature of the game changes.

FIRST has certainly been an influence on young Diana Trifanenkova, a member of this year’s Cottonwood High School robotics team, who originally wanted to study to be an interior designer — that is until she began designing and building her robot.

“After joining FIRST Robotics, I’m now really interested in engineering,” said the 16-year-old junior and member of Cottonwood’s “Underdogs” team. “That’s when I realized how engineering might be helpful for me and my future, but that it also could help other people as well.”

Diana’s team is also an example of an emerging trend for FIRST Robotics — more female participants are jumping into the competition. When Underdogs team captain Rachel Arlen started four years ago, she was the only female member. This year, the team is made up of all girls except for one.

“Our instructor is super welcoming of all kinds of students to join our team,” said Rachel, who plans to attend the University of Utah in engineering.

Not only is the team of seven core members nearly all girls, but most of them are from other countries, including Syria, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Columbia, and Russia, which is where Diana originates.

“The team leaders are all girls and have demonstrated to be ready to lead the way,” said the team’s co-coach, Yuri Perez-Alvarez. “We kept recruiting members for the team . . . inspired by the hard work of the girls.”

Along with the University of Utah’s College of Engineering, the event’s main sponsors include the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation (Founding Sponsor), the U.S. Air Force, Dominion Energy, Northrup Grumman, and STEM Action Center Utah.


Regional Chairman's Award2486
Regional Engineering Inspiration Award846
Rookie All Star Award8885
Woodie Flowers Finalist AwardClief Castleton (4585)
Volunteer of the YearChris Miller
FIRST Dean's List Finalist AwardAdarsh Payyakkil (4499)
FIRST Dean's List Finalist AwardNandini Rao (846)
Regional Winners359
Regional Winners2122
Regional Winners6844
Regional Finalists2486
Regional Finalists4499
Regional Finalists1828
Regional Finalists3166
Autonomous Award sponsored by Ford2122
Creativity Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation1332
Entrepreneurship Award1622
Excellence in Engineering Award359
Gracious Professionalism Award4944
Highest Rookie Seed8885
Imagery Award in honor of Jack Kamen5468
Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors4643
Innovation in Control Award4499
Judges' Award3243
Quality Award3374
Team Spirit Award2594