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March 23, 2001

Ann Hutchison

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-3039 or 650/604-9000

ahutchison@mail.arc.nasa.gov


RELEASE: 01-18AR
NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS:
News media are invited to the FIRST Robotics Silicon Valley Regional robot games for students March 22-24 at the San Jose State University Event Center, 290 South 7th Street, San Jose, CA. Students and their advisors will be available for interviews immediately following each robot competition. To reach the Event Center, take Interstate 280 to San Jose and exit north on 7th Street. Broadcasters, please see the end of this release for March 23-24 satellite feed information.

STUDENTS' ROBOTS COMPETE IN SILICON VALLEY REGIONAL GAMES

Student-made robots will form "alliances" to earn points through challenges such as lifting large balls and balancing on a playing field bridge during a Silicon Valley Regional competition March 22 to 24 at the San Jose State University Event Center in San Jose.

The event, which have attracted teams from throughout the western U.S., is supported by NASA's Ames Research Center. Other regional competitions have taken place nationwide.

The FIRST Robotics Competition is a national engineering contest that immerses high school students in the exciting world of engineering. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a non-profit organization in Manchester, NH, organizes the contests.

Teaming up with engineers from government, businesses and universities, students get a hands-on, inside look at the engineering profession. In six intense weeks, students and engineers work together to brainstorm, design, construct and test their "champion robot." With only six weeks, all jobs are critical path. The teams then compete in a spirited, no-holds-barred tournament complete with referees, cheerleaders and time clocks.

The overall goal of the robot games is to allow students to interact with engineers so the students can see the connection between classroom instruction and the real world.

Each year, FIRST develops the competition and supplies a "problem" and a kit of parts to teams of students. The partnerships developed between schools, businesses and universities provide an exchange of resources and talent, highlighting mutual needs, building cooperation and exposing students to new career choices.

FIRST was started in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to persuade American youth that engineering and technology are exciting fields. Teams from 10 FIRST regions have been scheduled to take part in seven regional finals across the nation, including the Silicon Valley Regional in San Jose.

The Silicon Valley Regional area includes teams from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, many of them sponsored by the NASA Robotics Education Project.

The Ames Robotics Education Project website can be found at: http://robotics.nasa.gov

The FIRST website at http://www.usfirst.org includes more details about the robotic contests.

There is no charge for admission to the NASA-FIRST robotics events at the San Jose State University Event Center, but street parking is limited. Competition and award ceremonies will occur Friday and Saturday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. PST.

NASA TV will carry coverage of the Silicon Valley Regional FIRST competition on Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST. NASA TV is carried by many local cable providers or you may access the feed directly using the following satellite coordinates/information: GE-2, transponder 9C, C-Band, located at 85 degrees West longitude. The frequency is 3880.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical and audio is monaural at 6.8 MHz NASA's Robotics Education Project will webcast the Silicon Valley Regional on Friday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST at http://robotics.nasa.gov/ncal.ram

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