NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: News media are invited to the FIRST
Robotics Silicon Valley Regional competition for students. It will be held
March 28-30 at the San Jose State University Event Center, 290 South 7th
Street, San Jose, Calif. Students and their mentors will be available for
interviews following each round of competition. To reach the Event Center,
take Interstate 280 to San Jose and exit north on 7th Street. Broadcasters,
please see the end of this release for March 28-30 NASA TV satellite feed

When the buzzer sounds, six weeks of research, development and construction
will come down to two minutes of intense competition for hundreds of
students and their 130-pound robots.

March 28-30 marks the fourth return of the FIRST (For the Inspiration and
Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition to the San Jose
State Event Center for the Silicon Valley regional competition. Forty-nine
teams from California, Hawaii and states in the northwest region, many
supported by NASA grants and mentors, will compete for points, pride and
the opportunity to participate in the national finals in April at Walt
Disney World’s EPCOT Center in Orlando, Fla.

“Education is key to the success of our country, and robotics competitions
represent one of the most powerful ways of getting students motivated,”
said Mark Leon, project manager for NASA’s Robotics Education Project led
by NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. “Some of these
students may go on to help NASA engage in bold new missions of exploration
of our solar system.”

“Who would have ever thought a program could combine rigorous education in
science and technology with all the redeeming aspects of sports —
celebrating accomplishment, teamwork, accountability and responsibility?”
said Jason Morella, FIRST Robotics Regional Director. “The result is the
best program I have ever come across for kids — motivating, exciting,
challenging, educational and fun — all while they acquire skills they will
use the rest of their lives.”

Each year FIRST develops the robotics competition by supplying a ‘problem’
and identical kits of parts to teams of students. The teams are given six
weeks to address the design challenge for competition. In this year’s
challenge, called ‘Zone Zeal,’ four robots, in alliances of two, will
battle to place balls into three goals and move those goals into their
teams’ scoring zone. Points are awarded for the final position of the
goals, robots and the number of balls within the goals. To add complexity
to the game, the winning alliance will be awarded only three times the
score of the losing alliance.

In collaboration with FIRST, the NASA Robotics Education Project is hosting
seven regionals and giving technical and logistical support for nine other
regional events around the country. The 2002 competitions are expected to
be the largest ever, with more than 20,000 students on over 600 teams from
as far away as Brazil, Canada and the United Kingdom. This year, NASA is
sponsoring 193 student teams.

FIRST was established in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to motivate students
to enter careers in math, science and engineering. The organization’s
mission is to design accessible, innovative programs to build
self-confidence, knowledge and life skills. The competition shows students
that the technological fields hold many opportunities and that the basic
concepts of science, math, engineering and invention are exciting and
interesting. FIRST is in its eleventh year of competition.

NASA participation in the FIRST program is supported through the NASA
Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C., and is directed by David Lavery,
Program Executive for Solar System Exploration.

The Ames Robotics Education Project website can be found at:

A complete list of the regional events, corporate sponsors and other
details are included on the FIRST website at:

There is no charge for admission to the NASA-FIRST robotics events at the
San Jose State University Event Center, but street parking is limited.
Competition and award ceremonies will occur Friday and Saturday between 9
a.m. and 5 p.m. PST.

NASA TV will carry coverage of the Silicon Valley Regional FIRST
competition on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST. NASA TV is carried by
many local cable providers, or you may access the feed directly using the
following satellite coordinates: GE-2, transponder 9C, C-Band, located at
85 degrees West longitude. The frequency is 3880.0 MHz. Polarization is
vertical and audio is monaural at 6.8 MHz. NASA’s Robotics Education
Project will webcast the Silicon Valley Regional on Friday and Saturday,
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST at: