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03-013
For Release: March 5, 2003

Sally V. Harrington
Media Relations Office
216/433-2037
Sally.V.Harrington@nasa.gov


Students and Robots Converge on Cleveland to Compete

It started in January. The game and rules were revealed. Then the kit of parts arrived. Now the students are done designing, building and testing, and the robots are ready to roll.

The Buckeye Regional FIRST Robotics Competition will rock the Cleveland State University Convocation Center March 6-8. This event is sponsored by NASA's Glenn Research Center in cooperation with corporations, educational institutions and organizations throughout the Greater Cleveland area and by NASA's Robotics Education Project.

"Interesting students in science, technology and engineering through this competition is one of the many ways NASA is seeking to inspire the next generation of explorers," said Glenn Director of External Programs John Hairston.

Hundreds of students, who make up the 64 teams from high schools in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Canada, will compete in a game called Stack Attack. Although every team started out with the same kit of parts provided by FIRST, there will be 64 unique robots at the Buckeye Regional.

The teams will be uncrating their robots on Thursday morning at 8 a.m. and will start getting them ready for competition and participating in practice rounds. On Friday the opening ceremony is at 9 a.m. and the seeding matches begin at 9:30 a.m. and awards are presented at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday the opening ceremony is at 9 a.m., the seeding matches continue until noon and at 1 p.m. the final rounds begin. Awards are presented at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The winners of this regional competition, and the 22 other regionals being held across the country over the next five weeks, will compete in the FIRST Robotics Championship Competition in Houston in April. Regional and national awards are also presented for excellence in design, engineering innovation, control systems, demonstrated team spirit, sportsmanship, creativity and many other categories.

Through NASA's Robotics Education Project, 20 of the teams in the Buckeye Regional were awarded sponsorships to enable them to participate in this year's competition. Three teams were awarded grants from Glenn's Office of Educational Programs. Ten Ohio teams benefited from a donation made by the Jennings Foundation. Each team also receives monetary support from corporate sponsors in their local areas.

This regional competition is part of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition, an international program dedicated to increasing interest in science and engineering and inspiring in young people, their schools, and communities an appreciation of science and technology.

Working side-by-side with professional engineers and technicians from their sponsoring corporations, colleges, and government agencies, the students have a chance to see what real-world engineering is all about. There are no losers in the FIRST robotics competition. Through this unique hands-on experience the students gain valuable knowledge of engineering, mechanics, project leadership, time management, task sequencing, physics, computers and teamwork.

As a result of the relationships formed between the students and mentors, the students who participate in this competition are creating their futures. Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST, predicted at the kick-off event for this year's competition, "The number of points won't be remembered, but in 10-20 years, participants will do something to make the world a better place."

NASA Television will broadcast the 2003 Buckeye Regional FIRST Robotics Competition from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 8. To access NASA TV via satellite, the coordinates are GE-2, transponder 9C, C-band, located at 85 degrees West longitude. The frequency is 38880.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical and audio is monaural at 6.8 MHz.

NASA sponsors seven of the 23 regional competitions and 200 of the nearly 800 teams participating in the 2003 FIRST competition. Information about the NASA Robotics Education Project can be found at http://robots.nasa.gov. Coverage of additional regional events, and the Championship competition, will be carried during subsequent weeks. A schedule of the covered events can be found at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/MM_NTV_Breaking.html.

Further information including a list of the teams competing in the Buckeye Regional, a list of the sponsors of the event and a gallery of photographs from the 2002 Buckeye Regional can be found at http://www.firstbuckeye.org

For additional information about FIRST, based in Manchester, N.H., go to http://www.usfirst.org

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