NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: News media are invited to cover the graduation ceremony of the second annual RoboCamp-West summer robotics program co-sponsored by NASA and Carnegie Mellon University. The event will be held Friday, Aug. 15, 2003, at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett, Field, Calif., at 1:00 p.m. PDT in Building 943. Students and officials will be available for interviews following the graduation ceremony. To reach Ames, take the Moffett Field exit from Highway 101. Turn right at the stop sign before the main gate.

After seven weeks of extensive programming instruction and hands-on engineering training, 36 high school students are ready to demonstrate their newly developed skills in autonomous robotics.

On Aug. 15, the diverse group of students will receive their graduation diplomas and conduct robotics demonstrations for family, friends and invited guests. Officials from NASA, Carnegie Mellon University and San Jose State University will address the students and award graduation certificates. After the ceremony, the students’ robots will perform a variety of pre-programmed autonomous tasks, such as playing tag, using on-board color cameras and laser range finders.

“A key objective of the summer robotics camp is to inspire students and engage them in understanding both the science and engineering challenges of space exploration,” said Daniel Clancy, acting director of NASA Ames’ Information Sciences and Technology Directorate. “The premise is that space is cool, robots are cool, and the combination of both is really cool. We believe that robotics and space exploration are a way to motivate, challenge and encourage students.”

Judging by the reactions of the students, the program seems to be winning students over and dramatically expanding their horizons.

“RoboCamp has opened my eyes to robotics,” said Jaime Barajas, a student from Sequoia High School, Redwood City, Calif. “This was better than any program I’ve ever done during the summer.”

“I didn’t think I’d be interested in robotics,” said Vanessa Carrasco, an Independence High School student from San Jose, Calif. “However, I will definitely consider robotics as a career option because of RoboCamp-West.”

‘It was great; I wish it was longer,” said Arturo Abad of Woodside High School, Woodside, Calif. “I really enjoyed being here. They really made it worth it. It has given me the opportunity to look forward to a new career.”

Micheal Leong of College Preparatory School in Oakland concurred. “It has given me a better appreciation of what actually goes on in robotics. It provided a good extension to the computer science and programming from my school classes,” he added.

Even Steven Jian of San Jose’s Lynbrook high school, a mentor from the 2002 robotics camp, appreciated the value of this summer’s class. “I learned as much this year teaching as I did last year,” he said.

Twenty of the 36 students received scholarships from the NASA Ames’ Equal Opportunity Programs Office designed to encourage minority students to pursue careers in math, science, engineering and technology. Scholarship students also received an additional two-week Java programming language course at San Jose State University to help them prepare for RoboCamp-West.

For more information about RoboCamp-West, visit:

For the previous news release on the 2003 RoboCamp-West, visit: