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After gearing up over the past six weeks designing and building their robots and plotting their game strategy, more than 2,000 high school students from dozens of high schools will ship their machines today to the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton for the 12th annual New Jersey FIRST Robotics Competition, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. This year's contest, dubbed "FIRST Overdrive" for its car racing-like characteristics, takes place Feb. 29 and March 1, 2008.
During the two-day event, the sophisticated, autonomously and remote-controlled robots will compete in a series of qualifying matches before the quarter-finals and final matches on Saturday afternoon. The FIRST competition is about more than outscoring opponents, though. Teams are judged on design, team spirit, professionalism and ability to overcome problems. FIRST enables students to explore a professional field not commonly experienced at the high-school level.
FIRST, the acronym of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is an international initiative intended to spark an appreciation of science and technology in young people established by the accomplished inventor Dean Kamen. Since its inception in 1989, FIRST has grown into an international movement. This year more than 37,500 high school students comprising 1,500 teams from across the United States and abroad will compete in 41 regional competitions leading up to the 2008 FIRST Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, April 17-19.
"By participating in FIRST, students acquire skills and encounter situations that give them a real feel for many types of careers in science-related fields," said FIRST Regional Director Randy Schaeffer. "Students come to appreciate the excitement of technological innovation. From electrical engineering to genomics and nanotechnology, these kids have countless options."
"FIRST provides an exhilarating competitive experience that motivates teens," said Sheri McCoy, Worldwide Chairman, Surgical Care Group, Johnson & Johnson, who leads the Corporation's sponsorship of the FIRST Competition. "The skills they acquire in communication, teamwork, critical thinking and troubleshooting are mandatory in today's technologically driven economy."
The New Jersey FIRST Robotics Competition is free and open to the public. Visitors can enjoy the excitement and watch the high schoolers on Friday, February 29 and Saturday, March 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The "FIRST Overdrive" game will feature robots, which have been designed to race around a track knocking down 40-inch inflated balls and moving them around the track, passing them either over or under a 6-foot, 6-inch overpass.
New Jersey FIRST gratefully acknowledges the long-standing support of Johnson & Johnson as its sponsor. The 2008 competition marks the 12th straight year of Johnson & Johnson's leadership support. Other New Jersey FIRST sponsors are: ADP, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, MetLife, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and The Port Authority of NY & NJ.
About New Jersey FIRST
New York City/New Jersey FIRST! is based at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. For more information on starting a FIRST team or sponsoring a team, call Randy Schaeffer, regional director, (973) 596-3234.
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