Skip to main content


Robotics Outreach in Utah


The Biocentric Robotics IGERT at the University of Utah has embraced a leadership role in educating the public, and especially youth, about the increasing beneficial impact of robotics on society and the excitement that comes from learning about robots. The IGERT’s primary means of accomplishing this has been to jumpstart robotics camps and competitions in Utah. There is a national competition, run by FIRST, which uses robots built by school teams as a way of building interest in engineering fields. While this has been extremely successful nationally, Utah has been grossly under-represented, with only a few teams at each age level.

This year, we helped start new teams at the middle school and high school level, supplying IGERT Trainees as mentors and using university facilities to help build some robots. We also hosted competitions for the teams. The IGERT group ran a FIRST Lego League competition for elementary and middle schools, and all our current IGERT Trainees played roles in the competition – judging or refereeing. The number of FLL teams doubled this year and we are on pace to double again this next year.

At the high school FIRST Robotics Competition level, an enormous effort brought about the inaugural FRC Regional Competition in Utah, with 17 Utah teams (almost all new this year) and a similar number of teams from the intermountain west area and nationally. This event is a showcase robotics outreach event and garnered a great deal of media attention. IGERT faculty volunteered for key roles during the three day event and spent months beforehand planning and raising funding for this spectacular activity.

Address Goals

This activity has demonstrable impact on college plans for student participants as well as providing an opportunity to reach the broader public about the excitement and importance of robots in society. Such raised awareness helps us recruit students into engineering fields, eventually raising the quality of research in this area.