Tue, Jan 10, 2012
Contestants Have Six Weeks To Design And Build Its Robot From
Standard Parts Kit
An international robotics competition aimed at developing a new
generation of technology leaders got underway Saturday. NASA, the
largest sponsor of the FIRST Robotics Competition joined local
technology firms to launch the event, which is taking place at
Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester.
FIRST -- or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and
Technology -- is a long-standing challenge to inspire curiosity and
create interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
(STEM) among high school students. Encouraging students to pursue
STEM studies and careers is the focus of NASA's education programs.
"NASA's Science Mission Directorate is proud to have sponsored this
technology revolution for the past 19 years," said John Grunsfeld,
NASA's associate administrator for the agency's Science Mission
Directorate in Washington. "This program has given tens of
thousands of students a crucial mentoring experience if they choose
to be a part of future exploration endeavors in space. FIRST
Robotics is fun and exciting and will sustain an unprecedented
positive educational impact on our nation's youth."
The FIRST Robotics Competition gives students the opportunity to
design, build and test a robot that can perform specific functions.
The competition also gives students the opportunity to be mentored
by NASA professionals, who help them to explore potential solutions
to robotics problems and understand the real-world challenges faced
by engineers and researchers.
"FIRST Robotics has had a tremendous impact on students'
interest in robotics and invention since its inception," said
Leland Melvin, NASA's associate administrator for Education. "In
fact, it was a mutual interest in FIRST Robotics that led the
agency to a recently announced collaboration with entertainer
will.i.am. We are excited to work together to help inspire the next
generation to pursue STEM and robotics studies."
At the kickoff, inventor and FIRST founder Dean Kamen and
designers of the annual challenge revealed this year's competition
scenario. This begins a six-week design and building frenzy for
students and their engineering mentors. Each year, participating
FIRST teams are presented with a new robotics competition scenario
with twists and nuances to challenge both rookie and veteran teams.
Each team receives a kit of parts and has six weeks to design and
build a robot based on the team's interpretation of the game
scenario. Other than dimension and weight restrictions, the look
and function of the robots is up to each team.
NASA plays a significant role by providing public access to
robotics programs to encourage young people to investigate careers
in the sciences and engineering. Through the NASA Robotics Alliance
Project, the agency provides grants to teams and sponsors four
regional student competitions. NASA engineers and scientists
participate with many of these teams as technical participants and
mentors to the students. Through these mentoring activities, NASA
engineers are able to directly share their expertise and
experiences with the nation's next generation of technical
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