MANCHESTER, N.H.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Inventor Dean Kamen and will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas launched the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) 20th anniversary season today with the Kickoff of a new robotics game called “LOGO MOTION™” before a crowd of 600 people at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, hometown and headquarters of FIRST. An estimated 50,000 around the world joined the Kickoff via live NASA-TV broadcast and webcast.
“It’s not just about robots,” said FIRST founder Dean Kamen. “It’s about building self-confidence, respect and important relationships with people who invent new technologies to make a better future.”
“I’m inspired by FIRST,” said will.i.am. “I’ve traveled all over the world, and this is the most exciting thing. You are cool, and I’m going to turn it up so everyone knows it.”
In the FRC “LOGO MOTION” robotics game, two alliances of three teams will compete on a 27-by-54-foot field with poles, attempting to earn points by hanging as many triangle, circle and square logo pieces as possible. Bonus points will be earned for each robot that can hang and assemble logo pieces to form the FIRST logo. Robots can also deploy Mini-Bots to climb vertical poles for a chance to earn additional points.
Through collaboration with LEGO® Education, a new opportunity to earn extra points is available to teams if they design, build and deploy a FIRST® Tech Challenge Mini-Bot from their primary robot. For the first time in the history of the program, FRC will allow the use of the two robotic building systems from the FIRST® LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge programs: LEGO MINDSTORMS® and TETRIX®.
Guest speaker Neal Bascomb, author of THE NEW COOL, which chronicles the challenges of a FIRST Robotics team, said, “FIRST is a dramatic sports story that includes teamwork, mentorship, and inspiration. FIRST is about daring yourself to be exceptional.”
Sponsored by NASA and Needham, Mass.-based PTC, the FRC Kickoff event is an opportunity for teams competing in the season to see the new game challenge and rules firsthand. Teams across the nation, and in Canada, Israel and Mexico, watched the proceedings via NASA-TV broadcast or webcast from 70 local Kickoff sites, including Manchester, many of which also offered workshops and a chance to meet other teams.
“We know the program works. The partnership between you and your Sponsors and Mentors is a key reason,” said Robin Saitz, Senior Vice President, Solutions Marketing, and FIRST Executive Sponsor, PTC. “Your mentors are an invaluable resource. Many of them come from our customers like NASA, JCPenney, BAE Systems, and John Deere, just to name a few. They invest in you with their time. Learn from them. And don’t forget to thank them, over and over again.”
The Kickoff included presentations by FIRST founder Dean Kamen; PTC senior vice president, solutions marketing and FIRST executive sponsor Robin Saitz; NASA program executive Dave Lavery; FIRST chairman Walt P. Havenstein; FIRST national advisor Dr. Woodie Flowers; and FIRST president Jon Dudas. The program also featured remarks by THE NEW COOL author Neal Bascomb; MacArthur Foundation fellow Amir Abo-Shaeer; U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire; Gov. John Lynch of New Hampshire; and FIRST Robotics Competition director Bill Miller. The program also recognized this year’s Safety Animation Award winner, the Funky Monkeys (FIRST Team #846) of Saratoga, Calif., and the 2011 FIRST Safety Video presented by Underwriters Laboratories.
Recalling his former position as Undersecretary of Commerce and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, FIRST president Jon Dudas said, “As important as patents are, they’re not nearly as important as what you do. You are the leaders, innovators, and collaborators of the future.”
As part of FIRST®Green, a series of sustainable, eco-friendly FIRST fundraising programs, the FIRST® Green e-watt saver program was launched, which enables FIRST teams to sell an exclusive, state-of-the-art, 7-watt LED light bulb replacing the standard 60-watt household light bulb – for both longer life and significantly lower energy consumption. Other FIRST®Green programs being piloted for teams include the recycling of electronics and a program that would reduce energy consumption through more efficient household load-balancing.
At today’s FRC Kickoff, FIRST teams were shown the “LOGO MOTION” playing field and received a Kit of Parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC and a mix of automation components – but no instructions. Working with Mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Once these young inventors create a robot, their teams participate in competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration and the determination of students.
FIRST also introduced a design video aimed at supporting teams through their initial design process. “Like my fellow members of the FIRST Executive Advisory Board, I’m always amazed by the work FIRST teams do in six weeks,” said Joe Astroth, Chief Education Officer, Autodesk, and FIRST Executive Advisory Board member. “We want to provide teams with an array of resources, and I think that an understanding of the design process is a huge value-add – whether you’re competing in FRC or pursuing your career.”
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and more than $14 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL™) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious Professionalism™ is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.
To find FIRST Robotics Competition events and teams in your area, visit www.usfirst.org, and click on the red block in the top right corner or visit ConnectAMillionMinds.com and enter your zip code.
FRC is an annual competition that helps students to discover the excitement of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and the rewards a career in STEM can bring. More than 50,000 high-school students from the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Turkey, and the U.K. will participate in this year’s competition.
In 1992, the FIRST Robotics Competition began with 28 teams and a single 14-by-14-foot playing field in a New Hampshire high school gym. This season, a projected 2,073 teams – including 414 rookie teams – will participate. Fifty-eight regional competitions in the U.S., Canada, and Israel, plus eight district competitions and one state championship in Michigan, will lead up to the 2011 FIRST Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, April 27-30.
FIRST programs are spearheaded by more than 90,000 dedicated Volunteers worldwide, most of them professional engineers and scientists who mentor the next generation of innovators.
FIRST® and the FIRST logo are registered trademarks, and Gracious Professionalism™ is a common law trademark, of the United States Foundation For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST).
LEGO® is a registered trademark of The LEGO Group.
Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6566717&lang=en