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Press Release 98-08

Sally V. Harrington
NASA Lewis Research Center
(Bus: 216/433-2037)


CLEVELAND, OH--For the fifth consecutive year NASA Lewis Research Center and East Technical High School have worked side by side preparing for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robot Competition. The program provides for partnerships between students and industry or government engineers to provide a hands-on, inside look at the engineering profession. This national contest, designed to excite our next generation about math, science and technology, will take place at Epcot Center in Disney World in Orlando, FL, April 2-4, 1998.

The interest and enthusiasm on the part of East Tech students to participate in this project is so great that this year more students tried out for the FIRST team than tried out for football and basketball combined. Likewise, working on this project with the students has proven so rewarding for the engineers and technicians at Lewis that nine of them are veteran team members.

Personnel from NASA Lewis started working with students from East Tech, a thematic engineering high school in the Cleveland City School District, in November 1997 to familiarize them with the basic principles of engineering and to develop a good working relationship. The team met several times a week to decide on the design, build the robot from an identical kit of parts distributed to all the teams involved, determine a strategy and test the robot. The team is now ready to enter it in the Great Lakes Regional Tournament in Detroit, MI, March 19-21, and then the National Competition in Orlando in April.

"The dedication and enthusiasm of the NASA Lewis/East Tech FIRST team has been overwhelming," remarked Mary Palumbo, FIRST Project Manager at NASA Lewis. "The students came to Lewis to work on the robot after a full day of school, and the Lewis employees put in long days, including weekends, in order to produce a world-class robot this year."

The team has three corporate sponsors: Battelle; The Illuminating Company, A FirstEnergy Company and TRW. They provide support and resources that allow the team to travel to the regional tournament and the national competition. Additionally, two Battelle employees are working directly with the students on the team’s entry for the Chairman’s Award. The award is presented to the team which achieves excellence by working well together based on videos, photos, or written chronicles submitted by the teams prior to the National Competition.

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