RELEASE: 00-292

Three high schools – one in Huntsville and two in neighboring cities – will
participate in a national engineering competition to build robots with the
help of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Lee High School in Huntsville, Arab High School in Arab, Ala., and Lincoln
County High School in Fayetteville, Tenn., will vie in the annual FIRST
Robotics Competition in early 2001. The Marshall Center is sponsoring the
school teams by providing engineering, advisory and financial support.

This is the second year that Marshall is participating — having sponsored
Lee High School in the 2000 competition. The Lee team beat more than 260
competitors to capture two of the national awards presented. The Boeing
Company will partner with Marshall to sponsor Lee High in the 2001

The FIRST Foundation (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and
Technology) conducts annual regional and national design competitions for
high school students teamed with industries and universities. The overall
goal is to demonstrate that engineering and science can be as interesting,
captivating and entertaining as a sporting event.

The competition requires an intense six-week project in which teams design,
build and control a remotely operated vehicle for a sports-based task whose
objective changes each year.

“Last year’s objective was to design a robot to put balls in a goal, and
support its own weight by hanging from a bar,” said Vicki Smith of
Marshall’s Education Programs Department.

Competition begins in early January when the objective — or game — for the
robot is unveiled. Each year, different size, weight and material
construction limitations are imposed.

“Six weeks later, you have to have your robot completed and ready for
competition. It is highly intense,” Smith said. “It’s also a lot of fun for
the engineers since they don’t usually see a project go from the drawing
board to construction and operation so quickly.”


Jerry Berg

Media Relations Department

(256) 544-0034