In Altice, LI robotics tourney lands a major backer

They, robot: The 2017 SBPLI Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics competition has found its Captain of Innovation.

If you’re looking for an innovative backer for your robotics competition, you can do worse than the country’s fourth-largest cable operator.

And that’s just what School-Business Partnerships of Long Island gets in Altice USA, which has signed on as a lead sponsor for the 2017 SBPLI Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics competition.

Now in its 18th season, the donor-sponsored event pits teams of high school-aged students from across Long Island and metropolitan New York in a cooperative, tournament-style robotics competition. This year, 55 teams – including one from Brazil – are slated to show off their science, technology, engineering and mathematics chops.

School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1984 by Fred Breithut to combine curriculum development with regional workforce needs, first brought the FIRST competition to the Island in 1999. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – creates innovative programs, including Lego leagues and tech challenges, to promote scientific acumen and social skills.

Altice USA, formerly Cablevision, is booked as the event’s “Captain of Innovation-Level Sponsor,” the company said in a statement.

In addition to financial support, the Oyster Bay-based subsidiary of Dutch conglomerate Altice NV – which completed its $17.7 billion acquisition of Cablevision Systems Corp. last year – will also be lending some human capital to the two-day automaton-a-thon, scheduled for March 31 and April 1 at Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex.

Yacov Shamash: Better human resources through robotics.

Trumpeting the competition’s power to help robotics students “turn a vision into reality,” SBPLI Board Chairman Yacov Shamash said Monday School-Business Partnerships was thrilled to have Altice USA in the FIRST Robotics fold.

“This event opens the door to possibilities that are few and far between these days, like scholarships or job opportunities,” said Shamash, also Stony Brook University’s vice president for economic development.

The annual competition also increases STEM awareness – for science, technology, engineering and mathematics – and prioritizes such non-tangibles as maturity, teamwork and problem-solving, “skills that are necessary to enrich their professional lives,” Shamash added.

Supporting the Long Island Regional is a natural fit for Altice USA, according to Senior Vice President Lee Schroeder, who noted the competition’s networking benefits and inherent support of a future tech-savvy workforce.

“We are committed to investing in and supporting the growth of our next generation of STEM leaders,” Schroeder, Altice USA’s head of government and community affairs, said in a statement. “As a technology-focused company, we fully recognize how important it is to inspire children to join STEM fields, and promote the development of future innovators.”