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550 robots, built by students, compete in three simultaneous contests
Since September 2006, more than 130,000 young people in 37 countries have been planning, building, and testing their robotic designs for a chance to compete at the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Championship, April 12-14, in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Months of preparation and regional competitions culminate this weekend, as teams from three separate robotics competitions — the FIRST Robotics Competition, the FIRST LEGO League, and the FIRST Vex Challenge — engage in the ultimate sporting competition for the mind.
FIRST is a not-for-profit founded by Dean Kamen, renowned inventor of the Segway® Human Transporter. The public charity offers innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math while building life skills.
"To passively sit in a classroom is a 19th century format," said Kamen. "In this next century, you're going to have to be creative, or you're not going to make it. We want to help stimulate our youth to be varsity thinkers and varsity creators."
The main event will be the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Championship for high school students, now in its sixteenth and largest-ever season. Three hundred forty four robotics teams comprised of 8,600 students will put their carefully constructed robots to the test in this year's challenge, "Rack ‘N' Roll." The game tests the students and their robots' abilities to hang inflated, colored tubes on pegs configured in rows and columns on a 10-foot high center "rack" structure, program a robotic vision system to navigate the robot, and "lift" other robots more than 4" off the floor.
Approximately 32,500 high school students comprised of more than 1,300 teams from Brazil, Canada, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and - for the first time ever - every state in the U.S., participated in 37 regional competitions in March. Teams earned their invitations to the Championship by excelling in competitive play, sportsmanship, and the development of partnerships among schools, businesses, and communities.
In addition to FRC, the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) World Festival for middle-school students features close to 1,000 students from the top 94 teams around the world. This year's FLL challenge, "Nano Quest," requires students to design, build, and program a LEGO MINDSTORMS® robot that manipulates individual atoms, targets medicine to reach a specific problem spot, and operates a space elevator — all on a tabletop playing field. FLL is an international program for students 9-14, created through a partnership between FIRST and The LEGO Group in 1998.
FIRST VEX CHALLENGE
The Championship also features the FIRST Vex Challenge (FVC) World Championship. FVC offers high-school students the challenge of a FIRST Robotics Competition using a more accessible and affordable robotics kit, the Vex Robotics Design System. Approximately 1,000 students will compete.
FIRST students are eligible for nearly $8 million in scholarships from some of the finest science and engineering schools in the country. Many of these schools will be featured in "Scholarship Row," where representatives will be on hand to offer more information about their schools' science and engineering programs as well as their support of FIRST.
FIRST will also host a Leadership Roundtable on Innovation in Atlanta on Friday, April 13. Leaders will engage in a highly interactive discussion and provide insights for understanding and harnessing innovation. They will conclude with actionable recommendations for inspiring innovation and leadership among future members of the workforce.
Championship attendees will hear from speakers including Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, and will have the opportunity to attend the 2007 FIRST Robotics Conference, April 11-13. The Conference features more than 40 presentations by experienced FIRST team members, college and university representatives, and professionals such as IBM Fellow Don Eigler - also known as the father of nanotechnology - covering a wide variety of topics in science, technology, engineering, and robotics fields.
Autodesk, Inc. is the Official Championship Sponsor of the 2007 FIRST Championship. Other FIRST Championship sponsors this year are: Abbott Laboratories - FIRST Pit Sponsor; The Coca-Cola Company - FIRST Team Alliance Sponsor; FedEx Corporation - FIRST Shipping Sponsor; NASA - Machine Shop and Satellite Broadcast Sponsor; Underwriters Laboratories - FIRST Safety Partner; Delphi Corporation - FIRST Hall of Fame Sponsor; Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation - FIRST Hospitality Center Sponsor; United States Patent and Trademark Office - FIRST Sponsor; Georgia Institute of Technology - FIRST Scholarship Row Sponsor; Central Intelligence Agency and Rolls-Royce - FIRST Robotics Conference Sponsors; and the FIRST Robotics Competition Peachtree Consortium: AT&T Georgia; The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation; Georgia Research Alliance; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Scientific-Atlanta, Inc., A Cisco Company; Southern Company; UPS; and Women in Technology, Inc.
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 the support of many of the world’s most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Vex Challenge for high-school students, the FIRST LEGO League for children 9-14 years old, and the Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year-olds. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.
Editor’s Note: FRC practice matches will be held on Thursday, April 12, and competition matches will be held Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14. FLL and FVC matches will be held on Thursday and Friday. Beta video and digital photos of previous FIRST competitions are available on request.
For more information, please click here
Cone, Inc. for FIRST
Maureen O’Connell, 617-939-8330
Marian Murphy, 603-666-3906 ext. 409
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