FIRST® Long Island Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the SBPLI Long Island Regional FIRST® Robotics Competition

In 2019, School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc. (SBPLI), also known as FIRST Long Island, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its SBPLI Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition is targeted to students grades 9 to 12 and combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams are challenged to design a team “brand,” sharpen teamwork skills, and build, program and test their robots to perform prescribed tasks with and against a field of competitors.

The introduction of the FIRST Robotics Competition to Long Island was the convergence of SBPLI’s late Founder, Fred Breithut’s vision for the students of Long Island and the innovative program developed through FIRST. Fred Breithut, a former educator, founded SBPLI in 1984 to address the gap between the skills needed by Long Island’s business community and the relevant preparation provided by local school districts. In the first 15 years of its operation, SBPLI formed over 100 successful partnerships between high schools and local businesses.

Following an inspirational and captivating presentation in the late 1990’s by FIRST Founder Dean Kamen to the SBPLI Board of Directors, SBPLI was determined to make the commitment to bring the FIRST Robotics Competition to the students on Long Island. Under Fred’s leadership, guidance and persistence, SBPLI has tirelessly stayed on track to enhance and expand these incredible programs. Fred believed that industries on Long Island specializing in manufacturing, engineering and technology would require Long Island youth to become more educated, engaged and excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). FIRST Robotics would provide the perfect path for this to occur.

In 2000, the inaugural SBPLI Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition was held under a tent at Suffolk Community College’s Ammerman Campus in Selden, with 23 teams participating. Since then, FIRST Robotics Competition on Long Island has grown tremendously. In 2018, SBPLI – FIRST Long Island hosted 78 teams, requiring two, rather than one Regional event. In 2019, the Long Island Regional will host 85 teams, with 17 competing from foreign countries—the most in the Regional’s history.

This year’s events will take place on March 26 to 27 and March 29 to 30 at Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex. Each event will serve as a separate regional, with different teams competing in separate alliances and tournament rounds. At the conclusion of these events, some of these teams will advance to the 2019 FIRST Championship at either Houston, Texas from April 17-20, or Detroit, Michigan from April 24-27.

During the past twenty years, SBPLI has been proud to provide students with practical experience while helping the business community develop its future workforce. SBPLI is an all-volunteer organization funded by sponsorships and donations by industry, educational services, government and individuals who believe that STEM-oriented education will provide Long Island students with the tools and skills needed to enter the 21st-century workforce.

This year, Zebra Technologies has announced that it will co-sponsor both 2019 SBPLI Long Island Regionals.

“Zebra Technologies is excited to amplify its support and help SBPLI celebrate the 20th anniversary of the SBPLI Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition,” said Melissa Luff Loizides, Senior Director of Human Resources and Community Relations for Zebra Technologies. “The use of our technology optimizes the gameplay and reflects our commitment to promoting education and STEM initiatives to give the youth of Long Island a performance edge.”

Festo USA , SBPLI’s initial and dedicated sponsor, has supported SBPLI for all 20 years.

“Looking at Festo’s core values of being ambtious, dependable, determined, visionary, and valuing each other, it was easy for Festo to recognize these same values in the students who particiapte in FIRST, making this a natural partnership that we felt was important to support,” says Richard Huss, President, Festo USA. “Over the years, we have seen the program grow and during the same time as our company has grown we have had the opportunity to have interns who had participated in FIRST and now have several engineers on staff who participated in the FIRST programs on Long Island, further strengthening our partnership.”

On January 5, SBPLI officially launched its 20th anniversary celebration with the FIRST Robotics Competition Kick-Off at LIU Post’s Tilles Center where students learned about DESTINATION: DEEP SPACESM, the challenge they must tackle during the 2019 season. At the event, several special guest speakers including sponsors, partners and alumni offered inspiring remarks to the teams about the FIRST Robotics Competition and its lasting impact.

As the season continues, the organization will celebrate the significant anniversary by creating memento collages, video compilations of past competitions and interviewing current team members on what FIRST means to them. These as well as robots from past seasons will be presented at the regional.

In addition to managing the FIRST Robotics Competition on Long Island, SBPLI dba FIRST Long Island has proudly expanded to provide all four FIRST programs, including FIRST LEGO League Jr. (for the past 11 years), FIRST LEGO League (for the past 15 years), and FIRST Tech Challenge (for the past 3 years).

“I can still vividly remember Dean Kamen enthusiastically sharing his passion with us about his dream of celebrating smarts and changing our culture by creating technology leaders and innovators!” recalls Joani Madarash, former Executive Director of SBPLI and current member of the organization’s Executive Management Team. “We didn’t miss a beat in embracing FIRST Robotics as an integral part of the SBPLI Mission. I still hear Fred Breithut’s words echoing… Folks, we must do this for our Long Island students!”


About Zebra Technologies

Zebra (NASDAQ: ZBRA) empowers the front line of business in retail/ecommerce, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, healthcare and other industries to achieve a performance edge. With more than 10,000 partners across 100 countries, we deliver industry-tailored, end-to-end solutions that intelligently connect people, assets and data to help our customers make business-critical decisions. Our market-leading solutions elevate the shopping experience, track and manage inventory as well as improve supply chain efficiency and patient care. Ranked on Forbes’ list of America’s Best Employers for the last three years, Zebra helps our customers capture their edge. For more information, visit or sign up for our news alerts. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

About Festo

Festo is a leading manufacturer of pneumatic and electromechanical systems, components, and controls for process and industrial automation. For more than 40 years, Festo Corporation has continuously elevated the state of manufacturing with innovations and optimized motion control solutions that deliver higher performing, more profitable automated manufacturing and processing equipment. For more information on Festo please visit our website at or connect with us on: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.