Robots will take over the Renaissance Coliseum at Bradley University this weekend when the FIRST Robotics Central Illinois Regional Competition takes place. The event is free and open to the public.

Dubbed a varsity sport for the mind, the competition is an intense three-day event that showcases robots developed and operated by teams of high school students. The teams pair with engineering/science mentors for six-and-one-half weeks to build robots that will solve individual engineering issues in the Season Challenge/Robot Game. Each robot is the product of focused brainstorming, real-world teamwork, dedicated mentoring and project deadline management.

The event is a spectator-friendly competition environment that has the feel of both a major sporting event and a rock concert, complete with cheering fans, crazy costumes, special lighting, upbeat music, a large video wall and energetic emcees/announcers. Of the 40 teams that will compete, seven teams are local (representing Peoria, Washington, Tremont, Dunlap, and Metamora) and two international teams from Turkey and Canada. The competition will take place on Friday from 9 a.m. - noon and 1 - 5 p.m. as well as Saturday from 9 a.m. - noon and 1 - 4 p.m. Awards will be handed out on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at 4:30 p.m. This is the 6th regional held in Central Illinois and the 5th held at Bradley.

Also on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. - noon, the top six FIRST Lego League IL State Champion teams and six top FIRST Technology Challenge teams will be competing in a Robot Rumble. Visit the website to learn more about the competition.

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 more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $20 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) for students in Grades 9 -12; FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO®League (FLL®) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST®  LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.