Set your reservations now for the finals of the FIRST Robotics competition in St. Louis April 27-30. The organization that does so much to promote engineering among students of all levels just kicked off its 20th season of robotic competition. Inventor Dean Kamen was joined by luminaries to Help FIRST kick off its season. Best-Selling author Neal Bascomb explained how FIRST has become “The New Cool.” Check out the schedule and try to make it to a competition. Last year I ran out of time. This year, I’ll plan it into my schedule.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was joined by public figures to launch the 20th season of the FIRST Robotics Competition with a worldwide Kickoff event originating from Manchester, N.H.

The 2011 season will include an estimated 2,200 teams (over 45,000 high-school students) participating in 57 Regional and District events. All teams will be shown the 2011 robotics game field and challenge for the first time and will receive an exciting, new Kit of Parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, and a mix of automation components – but no instructions. Teams will have six weeks to design and build robots to meet this year’s engineering challenge.

Dignitaries and public figures from across the nation will deliver remarks, including:
— Hon. John Lynch, Governor of New Hampshire;
— Walt P. Havenstein, Chairman, FIRST Board of Directors & CEO of SAIC;
— Neal Bascomb, Author, “The New Cool;”
— Amir Abo-Shaeer, Teacher and MacArthur Foundation Fellow (and subject of book on FIRST);
— Robin Saitz, Senior Vice President Solutions Marketing and Communications, PTC;
— Dr. Woodie Flowers, Chairman, FIRST Executive Advisory Board & Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, MIT;
— Bill Miller, Director, FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC);
— Dave Lavery, Program Executive, NASA;
— Jon Dudas, FIRST President;
— Dean Kamen, President, DEKA Research and Development Corp., and Founder, FIRST; and
— Special Guests

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is an annual competition that challenges high-school students – working alongside professional Mentors – to design and build a robot of their own, and compete in a ‘Sport for the Mind’ that measures the effectiveness of each robot, the power of teamwork and collaboration, and Gracious Professionalism. Students build and program their own robots against a field of competitors and experience the excitement of science, engineering, technology and innovation.

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