Purdue News

February 25, 2005

Robotic March madness to debut at FIRST competition

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Approximately 40 robots built by teams of high school students throughout the United States will compete head-to-head at the inaugural FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Boilermaker Regional Robotics Competition on March 17-19 at the Purdue University Armory.

Winning robot
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The event, which is free and open to the public, will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Nearly 1,000 teens will fill the stands along with family, friends and team mentors to cheer on their favorite robot. To compete in this year's challenge, the robots will score points by placing pyramid-shaped objects on top of or underneath 5-foot high goals, with bonus points awarded for scoring in a tic-tac-toe manner. Two teams of three robots will take the field for each match.

The robots face off in two-minute, action-packed matches to make their way into the final rounds of competition. Offensive and defensive strategies constantly change as teams review the scouting data collected on opponents throughout the competition.

The students work with engineers and teachers to design, build and test a robot in just six weeks.

Students work on a robot train
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Sponsored by the Purdue FIRST Programs, a student organization formed in 1999, the event will attract teams from as far away as Mountain Home, Ark.; Paola, Kan.; Ft. Thomas, Ky.; and Darien, Wisc.; as well as teams from Indianapolis and Chicago. Details about the 2005 challenge are available at the FIRST Web site.

In addition to competing for points in each match, teams will vie for other awards such as technical excellence, spirit and Web site design. These awards will be determined by a panel of judges composed of Purdue faculty and engineers from Boilermaker Regional sponsors such as NASA, Schlumberger, General Motors Corp., Rolls-Royce, Coca Cola and Kimberly Clark.

Patrick Wesonga, director of Purdue FIRST Programs, said the competition is a high-energy event that inspires everybody involved.

"The levels of creativity and ingenuity that the students demonstrate through FIRST never cease to amaze me," Wesonga said. "These robots, for which the students have devoted countless hours of work, are tangible evidence of how valuable FIRST is in inspiring a fascination of technology and engineering in children."

Suellen Reed, Indiana's superintendent of public instruction, will visit with teams at 10 a.m. March 18, and at 11:50 a.m. she will address all participants. Purdue President Martin C. Jischke also will address participants at 9:30 a.m. March 19 to begin that day of competition. The final rounds of competition will start at 1 p.m. March 19, after which awards will be presented. Winners of the Boilermaker Regional will have the chance to join approximately 300 other teams at the FIRST championships in Atlanta on April 21-23.

FIRST was founded by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway human transporter, in 1989. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs innovative programs to motivate students to pursue studies in science, technology and engineering. Since its inception, FIRST has expanded internationally to Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Israel, Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil.

Indiana teams participating in the FIRST competition include:

• Delphi Corp., Ivy Tech State College, Region 5/Delphi Corp. and Kokomo-Center School System, Kokomo. • Beatty Machine and Manufacturing, PEPSI, NASA, The City of Hammond and School of Hammond, Hammond. • General Motors Corp., BOSCH and Penn High School, Mishawaka. • GM-Allison Transmission, Rolls-Royce and Perry Meridian High School, Indianapolis. • DaimlerChrysler Kokomo Transmission Plant and Western High School, Russiaville. • Rolls-Royce Corp., BAX Global, K-T Corp. and Morristown High School, Morristown. • Remy International, DRN Machine, Ebbertt Education Center, Anderson High School and Highland High School, Anderson. • Purdue University, Schlumberger and West Lafayette High School, West Lafayette. • Proportion Air Corp., Rolls-Royce Corp. and Walker Career Center, Indianapolis. • ITT Technical Institute, Rolls Royce and Carmel High School, Carmel. • Wheeler High School, Valparaiso. • Rolls-Royce Corp., WaterJet Cutting of Indiana and Pike High School, Indianapolis. • Delaware Machinery Tool Co. Inc. and Ball State University, Muncie. • General Electric Corp. and South Side High School, Fort Wayne. • Bernard K. McKenzie Career Center, Indianapolis. • Cook Inc., Ivy Tech State College—Bloomington, Bloomington South High School and Edgewood High School, Bloomington. • Honeywell and South Bend Community School Corp., South Bend. • Huntington County 4-H Robotics and Huntington North High School, Huntington. • Murphy's Lock & Key and Southport High School, Indianapolis. • North White School Corp., Monon. • Purdue University, Convergence Education Foundation, NASA and Jefferson High School, Lafayette.

Other teams participating in the FIRST competition include:

• Science and Technology Group, NASA and Mountain Home High School, Mountain Home, Ark. • GMNA Engineering Structural Development Laboratories and Oakland County Schools, Pontiac, Mich. • Chrysler Proving Grounds, NASA and Chelsea High School, Chelsea, Mich. • Aalderink Electric Co., NASA and Holland Alternative High School, Holland, Mich. • Plexus Technology Group, Fox Valley Technical College, NASA and Appleton Area School District, Appleton, Wisc. • Saint Patrick High School, Chicago. • Motorola, Rolling Meadows High School and Wheeling High School, Schaumburg, Ill. • Oconomowoc High School, Oconomowoc, Wisc. • Columbus State Community College, American Electric Power, Battelle, Eastmoor Academy High School and Columbus Public Schools, Columbus, Ohio. • Robert Bosch Corp. and Northville High School, Northville, Mich. • Highlands High School, Ft. Thomas, Ky. • Delphi and Saginaw Career Complex, Saginaw, Mich. • Columbus State Community College, Corporate/American Electric Power, Marion-Franklin and Columbus Public Schools, Columbus, Ohio. • North Dakota Space Grant Consortium and Northwood Hatton Schools, Northwood, N.D. • IEEE/Hamilton Sundstrand and Christian Life High Schools, Rockford, Ill. • American Electric Power and Columbus East High School, Columbus, Ohio. • Georgia Tech and Wheeler High School, Marietta, Ga. • Tubular Techniques, American Electric Power, Beechwold, ACE Hardware, Battelle, Southeast Career Center and Whetstone High School, Columbus, Ohio. • P&G/Miami University, Lakota East High School, Butler Technology and Career Development Schools, Liberty Township, Ohio. • Tankcraft, Sta-Rite Inc., Continental Plastics Corp., Kikkoman Foods Inc., MPC/Borg Indak Inc., Carlson Plumbing, Barker Lumber/China Motors Components and Delavan Darien High School, Darien, Wisc. • Sutherland Family Limited Partnership and Paola High School, Paola, Kan.

Writer: Marydell Forbes (765) 496-7704, mforbes@purdue.edu

Sources: Patrick Wesonga, (765) 496-8324, pwesonga@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


Note to Journalists: Media packets with information on each team and background information on FIRST will be available at the media check-in station at the Purdue Armory. To reserve your packet or arrange an advance interview with team members or a representative of FIRST, contact Marydell Forbes at (765) 496-7704, mforbes@purdue.edu.


Related Web site:
FIRST home page


The Beatty International team from Hammond, Ind., drove its robot to a first-place finish at the inaugural FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Boilermaker Regional Robotics Competition at Purdue University. High school students representing 41 teams from throughout the United States competed in the March 17-19 tournament, in which the robots attempted to place pyramid shaped objects on 5-foot-high goals. Indiana featured the most teams, with 21. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger.)

A publication-quality photo is available at https://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/+2005/FIRST-robotics.jpg

Nikhil Bajaj, at left, a Purdue freshman majoring in mechanical engineering, works on a robot train with Andrea Pluckebaum, a junior at West Lafayette High School. Pluckebaum and a team of other West Lafayette students will compete against approximately 40 other teams at the inaugural FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Boilermaker Regional Robotics Competition March 17-19 at the Purdue Armory. Engineering and technology students from Purdue are helping the West Lafayette team and a team from Lafayette Jefferson High School to design their robots. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at https://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/+2005/robots-WLHS.jpg


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