NASA is webcasting live the National Champships of the FIRST Robotics Competition from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.
This 12th annual championship pits teams from 26 regional championships between 930 high school teams representing the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Brazil. Practice rounds run through Thursday, with qualifying rounds on Friday and Saturday followed by finals.
Originally begun with 28 teams and a single 14 x 14 foot playing field in a New Hampshire high school gym, the FIRST Robotics program for high school and middle school students now has over 900 teams participating nationwide and internationally. For the 2004 season, nearly 180 merit-based scholarship opportunities amounting to more than $3.8 million are available to eligible FIRST high school participants. (read more ... )
This humble blogger does have a dog in this hunt ... and is rooting for Team 571, Paragon, of the LoomisChaffee School and Windsor (CT) High School, the 2004 New England Regional Champs. Team Paragon is practicing and qualifying in Division Archimedes, one of the four live video streams presently coming from Atlanta.
This past weekend, 47 high school robotics teams competed in the FIRST Robotics Silicon Valley Regional in San Jose, California. The Silicon Valley Regional is one of 26 regional events this year. Ten years ago the FIRST Robotics Competition began with 28 teams and a single 14 x 14 foot playing field in a New Hampshire high school gym. Today, the FIRST Robotics program for high school and middle school students has more than 800 teams participating nationwide and internationally, in 23 Regional events and a Championship event. For the 2004 season, nearly 180 merit-based scholarship opportunities amounting to more than $3.8 million are available to eligible FIRST high school participants. (read more ... )
In the annual FIRST Robotics competition, students from local high schools were given six weeks to design and build a robot to performance goals that are new each year. This year, the robots compete for points earned by collecting big and small balls rolling loose on the playing field and delivering them into a goal hopper. For extra points, the robots can then hook onto a 10 foot horizontal bar and lift themelves completely off the floor, all in a strictly timed 2 minute period. This goes on with two randomly paired team "alliances" of two 'bots each, operating in vigorous, full-contact competition on a compact, crowded playing field. Each heat lasts only two minutes, under remote control of high school students.
First prize winner in the UTC New England Regional competition was the undisputed master of ball-gathering, "Blue Steel," pictured below:
Blue Steel is the product of Team Paragon (571), a combined activity of Loomis Chaffee School and Windsor High School, both of Windsor, Connecticut. National competition will be held in Atlanta, Georgia on April 14-18, where FIRST teams from the U.S., Canada, Brazil and the UK will compete head-to-head in qualifying rounds and a double elimination tournament.
Since 1994, divisions of United Technologies Corporation, based in Hartford, Connecticut have sponsored teams of high school students, engineers, teachers and parents to participate in FIRST. Team Paragon is sponsored by Otis Elevator. Other UTC divisions include Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.
FIRST Robotics and it's junior branch, the FIRST Lego League, were both the brainchild of Dean Kamen, famous inventor of the Segway scooter. Archived Webcasts of other regionals are hosted by NASA's Robotics Education Project. NASA is FIRST Robotics biggest sponsor, inspiring the next generation of engineers for projects like its Mars Explorer Rover Mission.
FIRST founding sponsors include:
John Abele, Boston Scientific Corporation
Baxter International, Inc.
DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund
General Motors Corporation
Johnson & Johnson
Dean Kamen, DEKA Research and Development Corporation
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Special thanks to Elizabeth Simpson, LoomisChaffee '05, who contributed to this report. Elizabeth is a member of Team Paragon, First Place Winner of the 2004 FIRST Robotics UTC New England Regional Tournament.
The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace was released by the White House last year. Public-private Task Forces have been working on ways to better secure and enhance America’s critical information infrastructure. On the NCSP are the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), TechNet and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cooperating with academicians, CEOs, federal government agencies and industry experts.
Five task forces were created that are now releasing reports: