NASA Langley sponsors national robotics competition
Dozens of sophisticated, remotely-operated, human-sized robots
will compete on a field the size of a basketball court as NASA's
Langley Research Center and Virginia
Commonwealth University's School of Engineering host a regional
robotics competition March 8-10 at the Siegel
Center in Richmond, VA.
Winners will be determined by which team designed and built the
best robotic "basketball player" in an environment that will look
and sound more like a college or professional basketball tournament
than a high school science competition.
The For Inspiration
and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) competition
is the largest of 13 regional robotics competitions held
nationwide, with approximately 70 teams of students, engineers,
technicians, and teachers scheduled to attend. Langley is providing
sponsorship to 20 teams and is again working closely with a team
from the New Horizons Regional Education Center in Hampton, Va.
To view a list of the teams scheduled to compete in this year's
regional event, click here.
NASA's Jeff Seaton, from Langley's Aerospace Systems, Concepts
& Analysis Competency, is lead again playing a role in this
year's competition. Seaton has worked with the New Horizons team
for the past four years.
In addition to sponsorship, "the New Horizons team gets the
benefit of working with current and retired NASA engineers and
researchers. They get to invent new things with NASA," says Seaton.
"They also learn that math and science can be fun."
Each year, FIRST develops the robotics competition by supplying
a "problem" and a kit of parts to teams of students. Each team has
just six weeks to organize, design, build, program and test its
robot for competition. This year's competition involves matches of
four teams that will take the floor simultaneously, and work
together to score the most points. These "partners" change each
match, so teams do not play the same group in any match.
A special guest at this year's competition will be Dr. Joseph
Allen, the former NASA astronaut who served as a mission specialist
on two Space Shuttle flights as well as a mission controller for
Apollo 15 and 17.
FIRST is a non-profit organization established in 1989 by Dean
Kamen, an entrepreneur and inventor with over 100 patents. FIRST's
mission is to stimulate student interest in math and science. In
1992, FIRST began organizing a national robotics competition. The
goal of the program is to join high school students with
professional engineers and technicians from industry and academia
to design, construct and operate the robots. The event has become
known as the "super-bowl" of engineering and the "the ultimate mind