NASA Public Affairs Office
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
New Orleans' first-ever Bayou Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition was held March 8-10 at the Morial Convention Center.
NASA Stennis Space Center Deputy Director Gene Goldman and NASA Program Executive for Solar System Exploration Dave Lavery were guest speakers for the opening ceremony.
NASA's sponsorship of the inaugural regional competition – including school grants and other contributions to the regional competition – this year totaled more than $500,000. NASA and SSC support FIRST by providing team mentors, as well as competition event judges, referees, audio-visual and other volunteer staff personnel.
"NASA sponsors hundreds of FIRST teams across the country and many NASA engineers mentor teams. Engineers are eager to participate because they know they are helping to inspire the next generation of explorers," said Goldman. "When one of your mentors sees you learn how to program a robot, or sees you come up with an innovative design, they are witnessing the creation of future engineers, and possibly future NASA employees who will help design robots for missions to worlds beyond our own."
Ten high-school teams from Mississippi and 17 from Louisiana competed in the event. They pitted their robot creations against those of teams from all over the country in a game called "Rack 'N' Roll." The game required robots to be able to hang inflatable tubes on a 10-foot-high rack resembling a giant jungle gym. Aimed at inspiring students in the pursuit of engineering and technology, each year's FIRST Robotics challenge game is unique.
Of the 37 competing schools, Provine High School Robotic Team in Jackson, Miss., won the Regional Chairman's Award and will compete in the 2007 Championship April 12-14 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, along with Northshore High School in Slidell, La., who won the Rockwell Automation Innovation in Control Award. Both teams were on the alliance that was the Regional Winner. Gulfport High and Slidell High will also attend the championship.
An alliance of four teams – including local Gulfport High School Technology Center, combined teams St. Paul's High School of New Orleans and Pope John Paul High School of Covington, La., and Hahnville High School of Boutte, La. - was Regional Finalist.
Other Mississippi teams who earned awards include: Gulfport High School Technology Center, Engineering Inspiration Award, Autodesk Visualization Award and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Entrepreneurship Award; combined teams Picayune High School and Pearl River Central High School of Picayune, Motorola Quality Award; and Mercy Cross High School, Biloxi, Underwriters Laboratories Industrial Safety Award and a Judges Award.
Other Louisiana teams who earned awards were: McMain Secondary High School, New Orleans, DaimlerChrysler Team Spirit Award; Slidell High School, Highest Rookie Seed Award and Rookie All-Star Award; and Sarah T. Reed Senior High School, New Orleans, Rookie Inspiration Award.
The 2007 season officially began Jan. 6 with a regional kickoff at SSC near Bay St. Louis, Miss. During the kickoff, FIRST distributed the "Rack 'N' Roll" game problem and parts kits to participating teams. The teams had just six weeks to design, build and program their robots.
BLaST (Building Louisiana's Science and Technology) Inc., a nonprofit consortium of New Orleans-area businesses and schools interested in advancing Louisiana's educational opportunities in science and technology, hosted the event.
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