FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, today revealed its new robotics platform for the 2008 FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) season. The presentation and preview demonstration were made to attendees of the 2008 FIRST Championship at the Georgia Dome.
FTC is an accessible, affordable robotics competition designed for high-school-aged students. Each fall teams of up to ten students compete at high-energy regional tournaments where the students, collaborating with mentors, must apply math and science concepts to solve the annual challenge. Designed to provide more real-world relevance for participants, the new FTC starter system consists of a TETRIX metal robot structure kit, LEGO® MINDSTORMS™ NXT robotics kit, servomotors, controllers, advanced sensors and LEGO NXT, NXTG, LabView for FTC, and RobotC programming software.
During the 2008 season, which begins September 2008, teams will use the new FTC competition kit. Twelve showcase teams will participate in a pilot event at this year’s World Championship in Atlanta to demonstrate the new kit’s capabilities. Teams can find more detail about the platform components, including pricing and availability, at www.usfirst.org.
“FIRST now offers a powerful continuum of programs to inspire kids of all ages to discover the excitement and creativity of science and technology. Each program meets the needs of a particular age group by presenting teams with an engineering challenge and providing a robotics kit with age-appropriate technology and materials,” said FIRST founder Dean Kamen. “By working with our partners at Carnegie Mellon University, HiTechnic, The LEGO Group, National Instruments and Pitsco, FIRST is now able to provide FTC students with an engineering challenge that is more real-world and a robotics experience that is higher quality, more rewarding, and ultimately, more fun.”
“For ten years we have been honored to support the FIRST LEGO and Junior FIRST LEGO League challenges to inspire the creative thinking of children around the world,” said Jens Maibom, vice president LEGO Education. “Today more than ever, it is essential that we develop hands-on, minds-on experiences both inside and out of the classroom to engage children and help them become builders of tomorrow. We are proud to partner with National Instruments and FIRST to extend this proven approach into the newly redesigned FTC program.”
"We must inspire today's students to become tomorrow's engineers and scientists. FIRST offers industry and academia alike the opportunity to get students of all ages excited about math, science and technology," said Ray Almgren, vice president of academic relations at National Instruments. "Through the collaboration of FIRST, LEGO and National Instruments, we are providing students with the latest technology that real-world scientists and engineers are using in their applications and that helps students grow and nurture their passion for learning."
During the 2007 season, approximately 800 FTC teams competed at events in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. FTC participants are eligible to apply for approximately seven million dollars in scholarship funds from some of the finest science and engineering colleges and universities in the country.
Growing Up with FIRST
Sixteen years ago, the initial FIRST Robotics Competition took place with 28 teams in a high school gym in New Hampshire. With the unwavering support of corporate sponsors and a global community of teacher, mentor and parent volunteers, FIRST’s four robotics programs now serve more than 150,000 children around the world. Children are eligible for the program at age six, but can enter at any point afterwards and may participate all the way up to high school graduation.