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Douglas Isbell

Headquarters, Washington, DC June 15, 1998


(Phone: 202/358-1753)

Sally Harrington
Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH
(Phone: 216/433-2037)

NOTE TO EDITORS: N98-41

ROBOT COMPETITION ON CAPITOL HILL TO DEMONSTRATE


STUDENT ENTHUSIASM FOR SCIENCE AND MATH

Student-built robots will take over Capitol Hill on Thursday,


June 18, giving members of Congress and the media an opportunity
to see the exciting results of a competition that combines an
improved understanding of math, technology and science with
teamwork and a thirst for achievement.

The "Capitol Hill Robotics Invitational" is a mini-


competition among rubber ball-shooting robots designed and built
by teams of high school students and their mentors in government,
industry, and academia. It will feature 12 of the 199 teams that
competed in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science
and Technology) national finals at EPCOT Center in Florida earlier
this year.

The event, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the
foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building, has been organized by
U.S. Representative Bill Delahunt (D-MA), and is sponsored by the
House Science Committee.

FIRST has been running its national contest for seven years.
Engineers from government, businesses and universities team up
with high school students, starting with identical packages of
materials supplied by FIRST, and work together to design,
fabricate and test their robots in six intense weeks. Their goal
is a championship robot that will compete in a tournament complete
with referees, spectators, and cheerleaders.

"In the process, the students get a hands-on, inside look at


the engineering profession," said David Lavery, robotics program
manager in NASA's Office of Space Science, who has been active in
FIRST for the past four years. "Meanwhile, we definitely get a
charge from their enthusiasm and innovation, which reminds many of
us why we got into engineering in the first place."

The NASA Lewis Research Center/East Technical High School


team from Cleveland, OH, will represent the 18 teams sponsored by
various parts of the agency, including NASA Headquarters; Ames
Research Center, Moffett Field, CA; Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, MD; Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX; Kennedy Space
Center, FL; and the Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA. The
NASA Lewis/East Tech team has competed in the FIRST competition
for five consecutive years. East Tech is a thematic engineering
high school in the Cleveland City School District located within
the inner city.

At the national competition in Orlando, FL, in April 1998,


the team was a finalist for the Chairman's Award. This most
prestigious award of the entire program is presented to the team
judged to have created and documented the best partnership effort
between team partners including outreach activities with children,
universities, and corporate sponsors in their community as they
prepare for the competition.

Prior to the national competition, the Lewis/East Tech team


competed at the FIRST Great Lakes Regional Competition, where they
won the Xerox Creativity Award. This award is given to the team
that displays the most creative design, use of a component or the
most creative or unique strategy of play. The judges noted that
the NASA/East Tech robot used design ingenuity by applying
aluminum powder coatings on its rollers to give them traction in
gripping the balls. They also cited the team's use of a
retractable tongue as a means of pulling the balls into the ladder
rails to prevent them from being knocked loose by opponents.

For further information on FIRST and the NASA Lewis/East Tech


team, see the following Internet pages:

http://www.usfirst.org/

http://www.lerc.nasa.gov/WWW/FIRST/

For further details on the June 18 event, contact Julie Carr


in Rep. Delahunt's office at 202/225-3111.

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