Posts Tagged ‘FIRST’

Wissahickon High School’s Robot Advances

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Philadelphia, PA — The FIRST Robotics Philly Regional is taking place at Temple University. Fifty-nine high schools from the East Coast are competing in the Lunacy game. NASA works together with the FIRST organization to design each year’s game rules. This year a special surface was designed for the floor and special wheels for the robots. Together the floor and wheels simulate the 1/6th gravity a robot would experience on the moon. Balls called “moon rocks” are shot into the trailer being carried by the opposing teams.

What can make a competition really interesting are “alliances.” Forming a competition winning alliance takes strategy, strategy, strategy. During the first day and the morning of the second day, there are elimination rounds. Three high schools are randomly matched to form a “blue” alliance or a “red” alliance for each round. Since new teams are matched for each round, the strategy is about each individual round. At this regional, there were eighty elimination rounds.

After the elimination rounds, the top eight teams get to choose 2 teams. The strategy for the finals is about choosing which teams you want to be partnered with for the remainder of the competition.

The Wissahickon team (from Ambler, PA) was in fiftieth place going into the final alliance selection. It looked like they would have to pack up and go home. However, Lansdale Catholic had been scouting all season and picked Wissahickon for their alliance advancing them to the finals.

Find out more about robotics.

What Would You Pay?

Friday, March 6th, 2009

San Diego, CA — What would you pay for an experience like this? Kids from all over the place have landed at the San Diego Sports Arena to do battle with robots. The FIRST Organization offers students a unique opportunity. Plenty of parents would pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for the chance that their children could participate in such a program. One of the beauties of FIRST is you do not have to be born with a silver spoon in mouth. Any child can participate. It’s not just for the elite. And, it gives you the chance to rise up and be the cream of the crop.

First of all, you get to build a robot. How many schools still have gymnastics teams? How many schools still offer driver education programs where the students actually get to drive? The fact is — fewer and fewer schools offer programs that are impacted by liability insurance. FIRST is a pleasant exception. Kids to get work in sophisticated machine shops, drilling aluminum, sawing steel, soldering, welding and riveting. At the same time, they are taught the importance of safety. That’s what makes it possible. That and the adult mentors that bring real-world experience into the schools. In fact, NASA has a mobile machine shop on site at the arena with their own crew of mentors. Wow!

Kids in the Pits Working on Robots

Kids in the Pits Working on Robots

That’s just the beginning. Here at the Western Regional competition in San Diego a student traveling from Pennsylvania is a fine example of some of the other possibilities FIRST has to offer. This particular student is part of the build team that works in the pits and with the machine shop. She also was an ambassador. Ambassadors are students that help promote the sport of robotics to people of all ages. They take elementary school visitors down into the pits for a close-up experience with the robots, as well as, taking adult VIPs on tours. An Admiral from the Navy, the Mayor of the city and CEO s from some of the largest corporations get an interact one-on-one with the ambassadors. How many kids get this kind of career exposure?

Who knows what other possibilities will present themselves at a FIRST event. Today, the student from Pennsylvania finished touring the VIPs and then was interviewed for fifteen minutes on the radio. TV stations were filming and writers were writing about her. How many kids get opportunities like this? How much would a parent pay for such a chance?

Should you get a chance to thank Dean Kamen, the sponsors, the mentors or the students, it would be worth your while. Just consider the wealth of their investment in our future?

Dean Kamen In San Diego, CA

Dean Kamen In San Diego, CA

Related Articles
About Dean Kamen
FIRST: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology

Lunacy: Robots In Space
Robots Take Over the San Diego Sports Arena
Robots Drop Their Bolts & Go Nuts

Robots Drop Their Bolts & Go Nuts

Friday, March 6th, 2009

San Diego, CA — The first day of the FIRST Western Regional competition got under way this morning at the San Diego Sports Arena. But, it wasn’t without some tense moments late into last evening. The two teams traveling the furthest distance, the Brazilian team and the Wissahickon, PA team, had to overcome any feelings or rivalry after some unusual circumstances took control over the Brazilian robot.

Team Brazil was expecting a well oiled machine to great them at the stadium. However, upon arrival, it was discovered that their robot was shipped to the wrong state. When it arrived in Memphis, TN, it dumbfounded customs and was quarantined. Having traveled such a great distance, it looked like Team Brazil was going to be shut out.

Team Brazil

Team Brazil

However, FIRST robotic’s motto, Gracious Professionalism, came to the rescue. Despite troubles preparing their own robot, the team from Pennsylvania dropped their own bolts and went nuts. Scavenging parts from throughout the pits, the two teams worked to the last minute assembling a robot. Right before the final buzzer, the teams got the robot approved for competition.

When queried about performing such a feat, Wissahickon team member Chris Brouse said, “I’m getting use to it. This is not the first time this sort-of thing has happened with a team from Brazil. A couple years ago we were at a competition when the team from Brazil arrived under the assumption they were suppose to build their robot on-the-spot. We worked into the night then, too.”

The karma of gracious professionalism seems to be coming back to kiss them in the bot. Late into the preliminary rounds, the Wissahickon team is in first place.

If you ever want to see intense innovation and intellect, experience how intense a FIRST robotics event can be. Come and check it out. It’s free of charge and sure to charge you up.

Motorola and FIRST Inspire Next Generation of Engineers

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Motorola has a Philanthropy Division that is helping children from around the world make a positive change in the world. Through their financial contributions and personal mentors, they are giving hope to children from around the world.

Schaumburg, Ill., 17 April 2008 – For nearly 20 years, Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) have worked together to introduce students to the limitless opportunities available in engineering and technology careers. This year, the Motorola Foundation has provided nearly $860,000 and more than 100 volunteers to support 15 FIRST Robotics Competition teams and 110 FIRST LEGO League teams that introduce students to the exciting real-world applications of engineering and innovation.

“Robotics mania sweeps the country each school year as next-generation inventors construct six-foot, 120-pound machines to compete in this global competition that has the energy and excitement of a rock concert,” said Eileen Sweeney, director of the Motorola Foundation. “FIRST Robotics is a shining example of educational programs supported by the Motorola Foundation that are transforming the image of science and engineering and inspiring kids to innovate.”

Students across the globe competed in regional FIRST Robotics Competitions for a chance to advance to the FIRST championship in Atlanta this week. Motorola salutes the eight company-sponsored teams - from Illinois, Florida, New York and Georgia – who are competing with their robots before an audience of thousands at the Georgia Dome. More than 220 high school students participated in Motorola-sponsored teams this year.

The Motorola-funded teams have been very successful this competition season. The Chicago-based After School Matters-Roberto Clemente High school team was the overall winner of the Midwest Regional competition. Additionally, the New York Patchogue Medford Raiders were honored with the New Jersey Regional Chairman’s Award.

In addition to the FIRST Robotics Competition for high school students, FIRST LEGO League robotics competitions engage students 9-14 years old. With a focus on igniting a passion for science and engineering among girls, Motorola sponsored 90 new all-girl FIRST LEGO League teams this year. The Cobalt Blue team from Illinois won the Illinois State competition and advanced to the LEGO League World Festival taking place concurrently with the FIRST Robotics Competition.

“Our support always includes mentors and creating connections between kids and engineering role models who open their eyes to possibilities for their futures,” Sweeney added. “The Motorola volunteers who participate in this program each year offer their time and their expertise to inspire tomorrow’s great inventors.”

A founding sponsor of FIRST, Motorola has provided continuous financial and personal support, investing $13.8 million and countless volunteers hours in the organization since its inception in 1989. Motorola also has contributed to FIRST’s global expansion, funding teams and regional competitions in Chile, Germany, Brazil and Israel this year.

According to a Brandeis University study, when compared to a group of non-FIRST students with similar backgrounds and academic experiences, including math and science, FIRST students not only are more than twice as likely to pursue a career in science and technology, but also are nearly four times as likely to pursue a career in engineering. Through FIRST, students build self-confidence, teamwork and leadership skills. FIRST reports that 87 percent of the high school competitors and company mentors have stayed involved year after year. Several former FIRST student participants now are Motorola employees and FIRST mentors.

“It’s great seeing students get excited about the science and engineering fields, especially the ones who have not had much exposure in this area,” said Julie Atkins, a Motorola engineer and current mentor for the WildStang team Rolling Meadows and Wheeling high schools in Illinois. “We see a lot of growth in their development and in the way they feel about themselves and the concept of a team.”

Motorola employee mentors volunteer their time and energy to coach FIRST teams, helping students understand engineering fundamentals, designing and building team robots, developing a strategy and fostering a sense of teamwork and collaboration. This year, more than 100 Motorola employees volunteered in state competitions and coached eight teams across the United States.

About Motorola Foundation
The Motorola Foundation is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Motorola. With employees located around the globe, Motorola seeks to benefit the communities where it operates. The company achieves this by making strategic grants, forging strong community partnerships, fostering innovation and engaging stakeholders. Motorola Foundation focuses its funding on education, especially science, technology, engineering and math programming. For more information, on Motorola Corporate and Foundation giving, visit

About Motorola
Motorola is known around the world for innovation in communications. The company develops technologies, products and services that make mobile experiences possible. Our portfolio includes communications infrastructure, enterprise mobility solutions, digital set-tops, cable modems, mobile devices and Bluetooth accessories. Motorola is committed to delivering next generation communication solutions to people, businesses and governments. A Fortune 100 company with global presence and impact, Motorola had sales of US $36.6 billion in 2007. For more information about our company, our people and our innovations, please visit