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For release: 02/11/03
Release #: 03-022

News media to get a preview of local high schoolers' robots Thursday

Five Huntsville-area high school engineering teams sponsored by the Marshall Center and a private industry-sponsored group will give the news media a glimpse at the robots they've designed to compete in a head-to-head "showdown" Thursday, Feb. 13. The event is in preparation for an annual engineering contest hosted by the national organization FIRST.


What: Five Huntsville-area high school engineering teams sponsored by the Marshall Center and a private industry-sponsored group will give the news media a glimpse at the robots they've designed to compete in a head-to-head "showdown." This year's game, called "Stack Attack," calls for the robots to collect and stack plastic storage containers in a designated area. The event is in preparation for an annual engineering contest hosted by the national organization FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

Each year, students across the country have the opportunity to team with engineering mentors from government, industries and universities to design, build and operate robots capable of playing a specific game, all within six weeks. The goal of the program is for students to gain experience solving engineering challenges in a competitive environment. The robot must compete in a sports-based game -- a game that changes each year. After a run-through Thursday, Feb. 13, the teams will ship their robots to March regional competitions, to be followed by the national competition in April.

Who: Students and their robots from Madison County Career Academy, New Century Technology High School, and Lee High School in Huntsville; Arab High School in Arab, Ala.; and Lincoln County High School in Fayetteville, Tenn., all sponsored by the Marshall Center; and a team from Butler High School in Huntsville, sponsored by Daimler Chrysler Corp. of Huntsville.

When: Thursday, Feb. 13 2 p.m. CST

Where: Intergraph Building No. 21, 470 Dunlop Blvd., Huntsville
Link to map

To attend: News media interested in covering the event must contact - in advance - Jerry Berg of the Marshall Media Relations Department at (256) 544-0034..

For supporting materials for this news release - such as photographs, fact sheets, video and audio files and more - please visit the NASA Marshall Center Newsroom Web site at www.msfc.nasa.gov/news.

Quick Facts about FIRST

  • The FIRST Robotics Competition, an annual event that began in 1992, aims to stimulate student interest in science and engineering. More information about FIRST, the regional events and other details can be obtained on the Web at: http://www.usfirst.org/
  • The founder of FIRST is Dean Kamen, an inventor and entrepreneur who most recently unveiled his Segway Human Transporter - the first self-balancing, electric-powered human transportation machine. More information on Kamen and his inventions can be obtained on the Web at: http://www.segway.com/consumer/team/press_center/
  • This year's "game" was unveiled Jan. 4 in Manchester, N.H., at the traditional kick off marking the start of the six-week building period before teams ship their robots to regional competitions. Each year the teams receive identical parts kits for construction of their robots. The specified set of tasks, or game competition, that the robots must perform are different each year so returning teams always have a new challenge.
  • NASA and its corporate partners, as an investment in the nation's future, are supporting about 200 high schools for this year's competition.
  • In 2002, the competition reached more than 20,000 students on more than 600 teams in 17 competitions. Student teams come from Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom and almost every U.S. state. The competitions are high-tech spectator sporting events, the result of lots of focused brainstorming, real-world teamwork, dedicated mentoring, project timelines, and deadlines.

For more information:
Media advisory


Contact
Jerry Berg
Public Affairs Office
(256) 544-0034

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