NASA to Sponsor 20 FIRST Teams

Posted 10 Oct 2001 at 16:04 UTC by steve Share This

NASA is offering to sponsor up to 20 high school teams in the next Southern California regional of the FIRST competition. NASA sponsorships will be awarded to first and second year teams only. The full NASA press release is available online.

Well, they sponsor a lot more than that, posted 10 Oct 2001 at 16:35 UTC by josborn » (Journeyer)

Looks like those are two statements, one issued by NASA LARC and the other by JPL, not NASA in general. Various NASA bases around the country sponsor a variety of teams, I believe about half the teams in the competition are sponsored by NASA in some way (funding, materials/tools, engineer help). Looks like the statement by LARC is saying that the NASA bases sponsoring a regional competition will each sponsor 20 teams, and the JPL release says that JPL is sponsoring some folks for the Southern California regional. NASA funding depends on where your school is located, it helps to be near a NASA base. For instance, last year our team was sponsored by GSFC.

IMNSHO, FIRST misses a big component of robotics, which is autonomy. FIRST robots are essentially large RC cars with appendages. The other unfortunate thing about FIRST is that generally whoever has good sponsorship wins. It's usually not very tough to see the difference between the rich and poor teams at the competitions. It's unfortunate that they can't or won't do anything to limit engineer involvement so it's mostly a student competition. I'm hoping these things change in the future.

One big change this year is that the national competition is by invite only, whereas before anyone could come.

FIRST, posted 10 Oct 2001 at 17:14 UTC by steve » (Master)

Thanks for the clarification on the NASA sponsorship. I thought they had sponsored other teams in the past but the press release didn't make it entirely clear.

I agree with your comments about the FIRST competition. The lack of true autonomous robots almost puts them into the BattleBots category but they at least have more interesting goals than BattleBots. The way the sponsorship thing works has always seemed a little unfair to me too. It would be nice to see a level playing field provided. But even with the shortcomings, it still sounds like fun. I wish there had been something like that around when I was in high school...

True..., posted 11 Oct 2001 at 21:54 UTC by josborn » (Journeyer)

FIRST is pretty cool. After all, it's what got me started in robotics.


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