Press Release


By SpaceRef Editor
November 10, 1999
Filed under

Nov. 10, 1999

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 650/604-9000




NASA is providing $480,000 in grants to 80 high schools across the nation
in a unique robotics program to inspire students to follow careers in
science and technology.

The challenge for students from each of the approximately 300 competing
schools is to design a robot to accomplish a series of tasks both quickly
and efficiently. The robots are then allowed to compete in an arena setting
to determine a winner.

“During the next few decades NASA will be launching a fleet of
automated robots to explore the Solar System. We want to empower the next
generation of students to be the designers of these intelligent machines,”
said Mark Leon of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA.

NASA engineers will evaluate the applications, and the winners will
be notified by e-mail no later than Dec. 3, according to organizers. Half
of the schools to be awarded $6,000 will be “disadvantaged” as defined by
the U.S. Department of Education. Each winning school will receive a
$5,000 credit towards registration fees. The grant will also provide about
$1,000 to each winning school for lodging as well as travel to the national
robotics games “kickoff” ceremony to be held Jan. 8, 2000, in Manchester,

The grant money will be paid to a non-profit organization, “For Inspiration
and Recognition of Science and Technology,” (FIRST) of Manchester, NH. It
will provide a basic robot parts kit, a remote control and other necessary
items to each grantee. FIRST will also arrange travel to the kickoff
ceremony for one representative from each of the 80 grant-winning schools.
In all, more than 300 schools will participate in the games. FIRST’s
website is at:

Detailed requirements of the robotic games will be carefully guarded until
announced at the kick-off ceremony. Following the ceremony, students and
their advisors will design and construct remote-control robots in six weeks
using identical kits of material. Advisors are often professional
engineers from private industry, government and universities.

NASA is awarding a total of 80 grants to the schools, 20 grants in four of
FIRST’s ten regions. The four NASA regions include the NASA
Langley/Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Region, Southeast Region,
the Lone Star Region and the NASA Ames Region.

In the NASA Ames Region, student-made robots will “clash” in competitions
to be held March 30 – April 1, 2000, at the San Jose State University Event
Center, San Jose, CA. This region includes Alaska, Arizona, California,
Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and

The NASA-sponsored Southeast regional games will take place at Kennedy
Space Center, FL, March 9-11, 2000. The Lone Star games will be at the
Astro Arena, Houston, TX, from March 16-18, 2000, and are sponsored by
NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX. NASA’s Langley Research Center,
Hampton, VA, will sponsor the Langley/VCU Regional games Mar 16-18, 2000,
at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.

The deadline for high schools to apply for the grants is Nov. 30,
1999, NASA will accept all applications via the Internet at:

Regional winners are eligible to compete in the national championship
robotic games April 6 – 8, 2000, at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center,
Orlando, FL. The national games require an additional registration fee.

FIRST was started in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to persuade American youth
that engineering and technology are exciting fields. The annual robotics
competition is patterned after Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor Woodie Flowers’ engineering design course.

Tom Dyson, telephone (650/604-6601), and Joseph Hering (650/604-2008), both
of Ames, have additional information about the NASA-FIRST regional robotics


SpaceRef staff editor.