Posts Tagged ‘robotics’

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.


Friday, March 20th, 2009


Students Learn Mechanics and Maturity, Design and Determination From Professional Mentors at Philadelphia FIRST Regional, March 20th and March 21st

PHILADELPHIA, PA– High school students from 8 states and 46 area schools have been tasked with the challenge and excitement of designing and building an original robot in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition ( This week, at the Liacouras Center at 1776 N. Broad Street, six weeks of intense design and construction will culminate in the Drexel University hosted FIRST Robotics Competition Philadelphia Regional, where 55 teams of students and engineering and technical mentors will demonstrate their skill for science, mathematics, and technology. They will compete for honors and recognition that reward design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship, and high-impact partnerships between schools, businesses, and communities.

“We are proud to sponsor this event and we encourage students to participate in FIRST Robotics with anticipation they will advance in the fields of science and technology. It creates both excitement and a challenge for the students while celebrating their role as scientists and engineers,” said Dr. Selcuk Güceri, dean of the College of Engineering.

Over a six-week timeframe, students work with professional mentors to design a robot that solves a problem using a “kit of parts” and a standard set of rules. Once these young inventors create the robot, their teams participate in regional competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.
In this year’s game, “LUNACY™,” robots are designed to pick up 9″ game balls and score them in trailers hitched to their opponents’ robots for points during a 2 minute and 15 second match. Additional points are awarded for scoring a special game ball, the Super Cell, in the opponents’ trailers during the last 20 seconds of the match. “LUNACY” is played on a 54’x27’ low-friction floor, which means teams must contend with the laws of physics.

Founded by inventor Dean Kamen, Drexel University’s 2007 Engineer of the Year and creator of the Segway Human Transporter (HT), FIRST was created to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people, their schools, and their communities. Currently in its seventeenth year, the FIRST Robotics Competition anticipates its largest season ever with over 1,500 teams from every state in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Chile, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, and the U.K. competing in 41 regional competitions. More than 1200 students will compete at the Philadelphia Regional to earn a spot at the Championship to be held April 17-19 at The Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The FIRST Robotics Competition is not just about the design and building of sophisticated robots. These students also develop maturity, professionalism, teamwork, and mentoring skills that enrich their lives,” said Dean Kamen. “Many of our students develop an affinity for their science and math courses, go on to study engineering, technology, or science in college, and also pursue employment opportunities with sponsoring companies.”

This season, participating FIRST students are eligible to apply for over $9.5 million in scholarships from leading universities, colleges, and companies. Scholarship announcements will be made at the FIRST Championship in April.

Since its beginning, FIRST has had a positive impact on students and academic communities. Research has shown that FIRST students’ attitudes about science, math, teamwork, and the working world significantly improved after participating. The students’ self image also improved, particularly in minority groups. In addition, interest in internship and employment opportunities with sponsoring companies increased.

FIRST Robotics Competition Philadelphia Regional sponsors and volunteers come from some of the most highly regarded organizations in the area, including Drexel University, PECO, DuPont, Rohm & Haas, Motorola, and ETC. Sponsors provide resources including time and talent from professional mentors, services, equipment, financial contributions, and volunteers.

About Drexel University’s College of Engineering
Since its founding in 1891, Drexel University’s College of Engineering has emphasized its strengths in engineering, science and technology to train students to become the leaders of the future. The College has the largest undergraduate private engineering program among the nation’s private universities and is Drexel’s flagship school with more than 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students specializing in experiential and global education. For more information on Drexel University’s College of Engineering, please visit

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 the support of many of the world’s most well-known companies, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge for high-school students, the FIRST LEGO® League for children 9-14 years old, and the Junior FIRST LEGO League for 6 to 9 year-olds. To learn more about FIRST, go to

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

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FIRST: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology

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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.

Robots Take Over the San Diego Sports Arena

Friday, March 6th, 2009

San Diego, CA — Q: How can a bunch of kids take over the San Diego Sports Arena? A: With robots.

How can these kids gain the knowledge and money necessary to build robots… real robots? The FIRST Robotics foundation is the vision of world renowned inventor, Dean Kamen. Though Mr. Kamen has donated a huge amount of time and money, it is with the help of other corporate sponsors and mentors that the organization has been able to flower. In fact, at this years Western Regional competition, the robot named “Miss Daisy” was able to travel from Pennsylvania to Southern California due to the gracious professionalism of the sponsors and mentors. (Gracious professionalism is one of the principles the organization is built upon — teaching the students how to be more than just good sports.)

The Western Regional competition has several corporate sponsors that include BAE Systems and Motorola. Unfortunately for many of the schools, the current economic environment has brought about a huge decline in corporate sponsors. When asked about sponsorship, Steve Stark of the Motorola Corporation said, “The sponsors are important but it’s the mentors that really make FIRST special.” Mentors are volunteer adults that help the teams build and grow. “The mentors get to work with the kids and show them about the real world. One of the key points of FIRST are these mentors. They help educate the students about the big picture, how to make a plan, reach out to the community, get funding and build a working robot. The mentors are often adults experienced in the corporate world. People that work in fields, such as, engineering, mathematics and the sciences are hands-on with the children.”

Motorola has a Philanthropy Division that helps to fund school teams and regional competitions. Without this type of corporate stewardship, these types of programs would not be possible.

One of the teams at the Western Regional is Team 2599 the Alternative Education School of Chula Vista, CA. The school is made up of students that often have not been accepted by the traditional education system. In addition, the students usually do not have the financial support necessary to excel. FIRST robotics has helped change the life of the kids in the community. Stefania Mendizabal is a senior from Chula Vista. She said, “FIRST inspires. Our sponsors, Qualcomm, Boeing, AT&T, Best Buy, Olive Garden, The Home Depot You Auto Know, Albertsons, Goodrich, Dixieline, BAE Systems, WalMart, Vons and Dynegy have help make our team possible. Dynegy has been unbelievable. They sent out mentors to work with us.” Though it’s Stefania’s first year in FIRST, the experience has been life changing. Now, she is considering continued education and a career as an engineer, scientist or in public relations. Public relations might just be her calling. Today she pursued the job of ambassador. An ambassador at a FIRST event meets with potential sponsors, government officials and other VIPs to promote support for the FIRST organization. She also hopes to meet with teachers and students from elementary schools that will be attending the event to help spread her enthusiasm.

Dennis Jenks, the FIRST Engineering Technical Coordinator for Land and Armaments from BAE Systems, has been involved with FIRST for eleven years. Speaking with him for just a moment reveals his vigor for robotics. Because of Mr. Jenks security clearance, he was not able to discuss the details of how FIRST has impacted his own career. Fortunately, he was able to provide a living example of a completed FIRST cycle.

Mr. Jenks met Travis at the beginning of his robotics experience. Their paths crossed many time over the years. Travis joined a robotics team in high school. After graduating, he moved away to college. Life just was not the same with a robotics team. He became closer friends with a student that had been on another robotics team in high school. They both were interested in being mentors for a robotics team. The problem — there was no local high school with a team. The solution — find a school and start a team. That is exactly what they did. This caused Travis’s and Mr. Jenks paths to criss and cross some more.

Upon graduating from college, Mr. Jenks was influential in Travis being hired by BEA Systems. “Travis’s involvement in FIRST robotics was definitely a major factor in my interest in bringing him on board with BAE.”

What are a child’s chances of a prosperous career from joining the high school football team or basketball team? On the other hand, FIRST robotics has a generous supply of college scholarships and job placement.

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

The Best Entertainment Value

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

San Diego, CA — What can a family do for free? Not only at no cost but as great entertainment? If you have never been to a FIRST Robotics competition, come to the San Diego sports arena on Saturday… and find out! Children of all ages will be competing in a variety of events, and it is FREE to the public.

For sure, the big robots will be on the main floor with big kids taking battle in the Lunacy events. But, there will also be younger children trying to win the First Lego League (FLL) matches. FIRST and LEGO have created a “powerful program that helps people discover the fun in science and technology.” You be amazed at what you can do with LEGOs. Also, there will be the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC). FTC allows teams to get their feet wet with smaller robots. Teams put together robots out of modulars that look like Erector Sets. These smaller robots allow younger students to get started at a much lower expense. After all, building robots isn’t cheap, but the event is. It’s free to attend! Come out and be inspired by the youth. You’ll gain faith in the future when you see all these children have to offer.

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Lunacy — Robots In Space Land In San Diego

Lunacy — Robots In Space

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

San Diego Sports Arena — The FIRST Robotics regional competition is being held at the San Diego Sports Arena. High school teams from across the country came to Southern California to compete in one of the challenges leading up to the national championships in Atlanta, GA.

We Kick Bot!

We Kick Bot!

It was unusual for the Ambler, PA Wissahickon team to make the trip to the Western Regional. But, there were also teams from Indiana, Colorado and even Brazil. That is just one of the things that makes a FIRST competition so much fun — the flixability to let kids try something different.

This year’s competitive season is based on robots competing in conditions that mimic the moon. Every year on New Years Day weekend, the FIRST orginization releases that season’s rules and regulations. NASA helps design, orginize and officiate. For this season, the floor surface and robot parts are designed to simulate 1/6 the gravity of Earth. Cleverly, the competition is called Lunacy. Normally the robots are not allowed to smash into each other. Not this year. For this season, that rule had to be relaxed due to the lack of friction. It is inevitable that the robots will collide in a crash-up-derby fashion.

The object of the game is scoop up “moon” balls and shoot them into a goal. The goal is actually a trailer being hauled behind the oppositions robot. During the preliminaries, three high schools are randomly paired to form an alliance against three opposing schools.

The schools were given a six week build season. Then, their robots are crated and shipped to the competition location. The students do not get to see their robots until they arrive at the regionals. On the first day, teams are allowed to unpack their robots and conduct practice rounds.

video: robot up-close

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Moon Balls

Moon Balls