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News Release 00-010

For Release: February 18, 2000

Sally V. Harrington
Media/Community Relations Office
(216) 433-2037

Students and Robot Ready for the Challenge

A kit of parts, a set of rules, a look at the playing field and a deadline of six weeks in which to build a remote-controlled robot. Now that's a challenge!

A team consisting of students from James Ford Rhodes High School in Cleveland, OH and a group of engineers and technicians from NASA Glenn Research Center took up for that challenge. For the last several weeks, they have spent over 50 hours together designing, building and testing their robot to compete in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. And now they are eagerly anticipating putting it into action against other robots built from identical parts kits.

The first opportunity to put the robot through its paces will take place at the Great Lakes Regional Competition at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI, on March 9-11 against more than 60 other teams. After that they will set their sites on the National FIRST Robotics Competition at Disney World in Orlando, FL, on April 6-8 where they will do battle with about 300 teams from around the world.

The Glenn engineers and technicians started working with the students last fall to familiarize them with the basic principles of engineering. Over the last four months, they have built a close relationship as well as a potential "championship robot." Their enthusiasm was contagious as they shared their experiences and expertise in technology, science and business organization.

This is the seventh consecutive year that Glenn has participated in the FIRST Robotics Competition. The competition varies from year to year with regard to the specifications for the robot and the playing field, keeping it interesting and challenging for returning participants. Prior Glenn-partnered teams have placed admirably in national competition and have won awards for engineering excellence and for creating the best partnership effort among team partners exemplifying the true meaning of FIRST.

In addition to NASA, the team receives corporate sponsorship from Arthur Anderson LLP, Battelle and Biomec Inc. Their generous support and resources has enabled the team to travel to the regional and national competitions.

The FIRST Robotics Competition provides students an inside look at the engineering profession. Through this program, young people benefit from the knowledge and guidance of their industry or government teammates. Working alongside them, the students discover the important connection between classroom lessons and real world applications of math and science. For many students, it also sparks an interest in engineering or technical careers.

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