Teens Construct Robots for the Chance to Become Champions at the Long Island FIRST Robotics Regional Competition

Teens Construct Robots for the Chance to Become Championships at the Long Island FIRST Robotics Regional Competition

School-Business Partnerships of Long Island, Inc. (SBPLI), sponsor of the Long Island Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition (FRC), announced that more than 1,200 students from 50 high schools have been tasked with the exciting challenge of designing and building an original robot culminating in the FRC. The FRC will be held March 25-26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, at Hofstra’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex (Arena). The competition runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 25, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 26. The students will compete for honor and recognition that reward design quality, sportsmanship, competitive play and high-impact partnerships among schools, businesses and communities. This event is free and open to the public.

FIRST was founded by inventor Dean Kamen, who first introduced the Segway™ Human Transporter (HT) more than five years ago. He created FIRST with a goal to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people, their schools and their communities. Currently in its 23rd year, the FIRST Robotics Competition in 2011 will reach more than 51,000 high-school-aged young people from more than 2,070 teams in regional events representing every state in the United States and several other countries, including Israel and Brazil. More than 1,200 students will compete in the Long Island Regional to earn a spot at the FRC Championship on April 28-30, 2011 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MO.

“We are extremely excited to see what our participants for the FIRST Robotics Competition have come up with this year,” said Janet Anderson, Acting President, SBPLI-LI FIRST. “This event is an imperative stepping stone for students. For some, it’s a chance to take part in making a vision become a reality. For others, it opens the door to possibilities that are few and far between these days, like scholarships or job opportunities. Most importantly, this competition is a chance to instill within students a vital concept to achieving success; anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”
Over a six-week timeframe, students work with their 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 their 120-pound robots, their teams participate in regional competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration and the determination of students. Students received their kit of parts on January 8 and have until February 21 to complete their robot. This year’s competition is a game called “LOGO MOTION™.”

In LOGO MOTION™, two alliances of three teams compete on a 27-by-54-foot playing field with poles, attempting to earn points by hanging as many triangle, circle and square logo pieces as possible. Bonus points will be earned for each robot that can hang and assemble logo pieces to form the FIRST logo. Robots can also deploy Mini-Bots to climb vertical poles for a chance to earn additional points.

Through collaboration with LEGO® Education, a new opportunity to earn extra points is available to teams if they design, build and deploy a FIRST® Tech Challenge Mini-Bot from their primary robot. For the first time in the history of the program, FRC will allow the use of the two robotic building systems from the FIRST® LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge programs: LEGO MINDSTORMS® and TETRIX®.

Since its beginning, FIRST has had a positive impact on students and academic communities. Surveys conducted by the Center for Essential Management Services found that participating students’ attitudes about science, math, teamwork and the working world significantly improved after participating. The students’ self-image also improved. Also, interest in internship and employment opportunities with sponsoring local companies increased.

This season, participating FIRST students are also eligible to apply for over $14 million in scholarships from leading universities, colleges and companies that will be announced at the FRC Championship in April. Through their participation in the 2010 competition, Long Island students were awarded with more than $650,000 in college scholarships. In addition, the winning recipient of the inaugural Fred Breithut Scholarship will be announced at the Long Island Regional. The scholarship will be given to a student who will enroll at Farmingdale State College to pursue a degree in mathematics, science, engineering or technology.

Great Neck South High School received the Regional Chairman’s Award last year — the highest honor of the competition. It is awarded to the team that exemplifies FIRST’s purpose and goals, thereby making the recipient an example of what other teams should follow.

SBPLI was founded in 1984 by the late Fred Breithut to develop partnerships between local high schools and businesses that would provide students with practical experience, while helping the business community develop its future workforce. More than 100 partnerships have been formed. In 1999, Long Island FIRST was formed for the purpose of developing a Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics competition. The Long Island Regional has since grown with 50 teams registered for the 2011 competition. The increase in participation among high school students and local business demonstrates the importance of supporting the Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition.
The SBPLI-LI FIRST sponsors and volunteers come from some of the most highly regarded companies and organizations in the Long Island region. This year's major sponsors are New York State Sen. Owen Johnson, FESTO, Hofstra University, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Other sponsors include Stony Brook University, Farmingdale State College and DeVry College of New York.

FESTO has supported LI FIRST for the past 12 years, and, along with BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman, has provided mentors and funding to a number of local teams.

“We have found that this competition truly works to inspire our young people to pursue careers in the engineering field,” said Hans Zobel, Chairman, SBPLI-LI FIRST. “The students of today are the workforce of tomorrow. We owe it to the communities we live in by helping with this event.”

Ms. Anderson would like to ask local businesses to consider joining Mr. Zobel and other Long Island technology leaders in supporting this year’s competition. Companies interested in sponsoring the 2011 Long Island Regional Competition or those that would like more information about the Long Island Regional can call Janet Anderson at (631) 366-0749.