Last weekend, students from Southern California, Central
California and Arizona had the opportunity to rub metal, burn
rubber and duke it out against the world’s finest student-
built robots during a regional competition held March 15-17 at
the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

The robots took part in the FIRST (For Inspiration and
Recognition of Science and Technology) Southern California
Regional Competition, where 47 robots and nearly 2,000 high
school students engaged in all the thrills of competition.
FIRST is a non-profit organization whose mission is to
generate an interest in science and technology.

The championship team alliance, made up of five teams
representing the region, will work together in the national
competition.

“This program pulls the blinds up and kids are exposed to
other careers they may not have considered before. The
students learn a valuable lesson: to work as a team toward a
common goal,” said Rob Steele, robotics engineer at NASA’s Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and mentor to the
student team at Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach, Calif..
“In some respects, it’s like working on a mission, where each
person works on one part or component toward one common goal:
mission success. In this case, all five robots worked
together to get the job done.”

The championship team alliance is:

  • Bellarmine College Preparatory, San Jose, Calif.
  • Hamilton High School, Chandler, Ariz.
  • Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach, Calif.
  • Mira Costa, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Union High
  • School, Redondo Beach, Calif.
  • Newbridge High School, Los Angeles, Calif.

The regional is one of 13 competitions around the country
in which more than 530 teams will compete in a national
robotics competition at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center in
Orlando, Fla., April 5-7.

Nationwide, NASA has awarded 100 sponsorships to high
schools and locally, JPL has awarded 24 teams with
sponsorships to help competitors in the Southern California
regional contest. Results are at
http://www.usfirst.org/2001comp/CA1/results.html .

The following 10 JPL-sponsored teams took awards at the
regional competition (all are in California unless otherwise
noted):

– Team Spirit: Cactus High School, Glendale, Ariz.

– Sportsmanship: South High School, Bakersfield

– Leadership in Control: Van Nuys High School, Van Nuys

– Highest Rookie Seed: Granada Hills High School, Granada Hills

– Rookie All-Star: Hart High School, Newhall

– “It Takes Heart” Judge’s Award: Dorsey High School, Los Angeles

– Regional Finalists:

  • South High School, Bakersfield
  • Taft High School, Woodland Hills
  • Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach

JPL is sponsoring three teams to go to the nationals:
Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach; Archer School for Girls
and King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, both
in Los Angeles.

More information on FIRST is available at:
http://technology.jpl.nasa.gov/announcements/first.html

Managed for NASA by the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena, JPL is the lead U.S. center for
robotic exploration of the solar system.