Total Grants To Be Awarded Top $1.3 Million
NASA is continuing its support for the annual FIRST Robotics
Competition, which inspires student interest in science,
technology, and mathematics through a challenge to design and build
a robot. The agency is awarding grants totaling $1,386,500 for
student teams in 37 states to participate in FIRST, or For
Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.
"NASA participation in FIRST puts us on the cutting edge with
the leaders of tomorrow," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.
"NASA's FIRST volunteers have given tens of thousands of students a
crucial mentoring experience and helped them understand what
engineers and researchers really do to mount challenging missions
of robotic and human exploration. FIRST inspires students to pursue
the technical careers of the future – careers that will help
America send humans to Mars and reveal the unknown."
Each FIRST team receives an identical kit of parts and has six
weeks to design and build a robot. Other than dimension and weight
limitations and other technical restrictions, the look and function
of the robot is up to each team. NASA volunteers support many teams
throughout the process.
The competition is structured like a professional athletic event
and teams compete in an arena the size of a small basketball court.
Robots must have offensive and defensive capabilities. Teams
collaborate to complete tasks, while simultaneously preventing
opposing teams from completing the same activity.
This year, 45 regional competitions will take place in the U.S.,
along with four additional international competitions in March and
April. The FIRST Championship competition will be held in St. Louis
"We were pleased to see the growing interest in these
engineering programs, as indicated by the increase in applications
this year," said Dave Lavery, program manager for the NASA Robotics
Alliance Project (RAP). "After a rigorous review process, we were
able to select 241 teams for receipt of a grant award."
NASA plays a significant role in FIRST and other robotics
competition programs by increasing access and encouraging young
people to investigate careers in the sciences and engineering. The
competitively selected cooperative agreement for the grants is
funded by RAP and sponsored by the Science Mission Directorate at
NASA Headquarters in Washington. It is managed by the RAP Project
Office at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA.
NASA founded RAP in 1995 to supply engineering expertise for
robotics and engineering competition programs such as FIRST. During
the past 16 years, RAP has awarded about $45 million to academic
and non-profit organizations across the nation to stimulate
America's intellectual capability in fields tied to robotics
engineering. Each NASA center participates in RAP and also
contributes its respective expertise, funding and other
NASA has participated in the FIRST program since 1995, and is
the largest single participant. Other participants have included
Motorola, General Motors, Ford, Boeing, and Johnson &
The FIRST program was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen to inspire
an appreciation of science and technology in young people, their
schools and communities. Based in Manchester, NH, FIRST is a
non-profit organization that designs accessible, innovative
programs to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills, while
motivating young people to pursue academic opportunities.