NASA Announces Robotics Student Competition 2012 Grant Awards

WASHINGTON -- NASA is continuing its strong support for the annual
FIRST Robotics Competition, which inspires student interest in
science, technology, and mathematics through a challenge to design
and build a robot. The agency is awarding grants totaling $1,386,500
for student teams in 37 states to participate in FIRST, or For
Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

"NASA participation in FIRST puts us on the cutting edge with the
leaders of tomorrow," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "NASA's
FIRST volunteers have given tens of thousands of students a crucial
mentoring experience and helped them understand what engineers and
researchers really do to mount challenging missions of robotic and
human exploration. FIRST inspires students to pursue the technical
careers of the future - careers that will help America send humans to
Mars and reveal the unknown."

Each FIRST team receives an identical kit of parts and has six weeks
to design and build a robot. Other than dimension and weight
limitations and other technical restrictions, the look and function
of the robot is up to each team. NASA volunteers support many teams
throughout the process.

The competition is structured like a professional athletic event and
teams compete in an arena the size of a small basketball court.
Robots must have offensive and defensive capabilities. Teams
collaborate to complete tasks, while simultaneously preventing
opposing teams from completing the same activity.

This year, 45 regional competitions will take place in the U.S., along
with four additional international competitions in March and April.
The FIRST Championship competition will be held in St. Louis in April.

"We were pleased to see the growing interest in these engineering
programs, as indicated by the increase in applications this year,"
said Dave Lavery, program manager for the NASA Robotics Alliance
Project (RAP). "After a rigorous review process, we were able to
select 241 teams for receipt of a grant award."

NASA plays a significant role in FIRST and other robotics competition
programs by increasing access and encouraging young people to
investigate careers in the sciences and engineering. The
competitively selected cooperative agreement for the grants is funded
by RAP and sponsored by the Science Mission Directorate at NASA
Headquarters in Washington. It is managed by the RAP Project Office
at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

NASA founded RAP in 1995 to supply engineering expertise for robotics
and engineering competition programs such as FIRST. During the past
16 years, RAP has awarded about $45 million to academic and
non-profit organizations across the nation to stimulate America's
intellectual capability in fields tied to robotics engineering. Each
NASA center participates in RAP and also contributes its respective
expertise, funding and other resources.

NASA has participated in the FIRST program since 1995, and is the
largest single participant. Other participants have included
Motorola, General Motors, Ford, Boeing, and Johnson & Johnson.

The FIRST program was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen to inspire an
appreciation of science and technology in young people, their schools
and communities. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST is a non-profit
organization that designs accessible, innovative programs to build
self-confidence, knowledge and life skills, while motivating young
people to pursue academic opportunities.

For more information about RAP, visit:


For a list of the selected FRC teams, visit:



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