CBS News: Robots return to Long Island at FIRST Robotics Competition

Robots are back competing on Long Island. 

The popular international event was canceled due to the pandemic in 2020 and was held virtually in 2021. 

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports, teens spend weeks of their own time building impressive, high-tech bots. 

They're more than just wires and wheels - the incredible machines are tasked with a job. This year, it's getting balls into a hub. 

Think "sports competition" for young engineers, coders, problem solvers. But this is not just students building robots. 

"The robots are building students. They build students to learn teamwork, to learn from mistakes, to help in a social environment ... We will prepare them for life," said Bertran Dittmar, executive director of FIRST Long Island. 

There are still no spectators, but 39 teams are cheering each other on. It's the culmination of hundreds of hours of students' free time.

"It's six days a week. It's a lot of work," one person said. 

The 22nd annual FIRST Robotics Competition - FIRST is the name of a nonprofit which reveals a task to teams and gives them just six weeks to build. 

"A lot of different designs out here, and so teams can change things on the fly. You can spend hundreds of hours here just to something not work out," said Max Joyner of Port Jefferson High School. 

"There's a lot of problems that occur. Programming issues. Mechanical issues," said Sarah Giacomazzo of Lindenhurst High School. 

"Amazing how different all of these robots are, and yet they do the exact same task," said Varun Sharma. 

It's teamwork with students from as far away as India and Brazil. 

"I have been at sports events, and very similar energy," said Stuti Bhatia, whose team is from India. 

There will be a winning alliance at the end of all this, but team members say it's more than a competition. They call it a "coopertition." They say it's about positive energy and professionalism.  

"It's not about robot wars here. It's more about ... figuring out wnat's the best solution to the problem," said Port Jefferson High School robotics coach Brian Chalmers. 

One-hundred-pound bots that generate life lessons. 

This year's robotics competition is being held at Hofstra University. It continues Wednesday.