Teens Exhibit Prowess for Designing and Building 130 Pound Robots that Compete at Long Island FIRST Robotics Regional Competition

Robotics Competition Featuring 37 School Districts Set for March 18-20

The School-Business Partnerships of Long Island (SBPLI), sponsor of the Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition announced today that high school students from 37 local school districts have been tasked with the challenge and excitement of designing and building an original robot culminating in the Long Island FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Regional Competition. The competition will be held on March 18-20 at Suffolk County Community College's Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood. Suffolk County Community College is the host and major supporter of the event. The students will compete for honors and recognition that reward design excellence, competitive play, sportsmanship and high-impact partnerships among schools, businesses and communities.

FIRST was founded by inventor Dean Kamen, who first introduced the Segway™ Human Transporter (HT) two years ago. He created FIRST with a goal to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people, their schools and communities. Currently in its sixteenth year, the FIRST Robotics Competition will expand its reach to over 23,000 students representing approximately 930 teams from almost every state in the U.S. and abroad. More than 1,000 students will compete in the Long Island Regional to earn a spot at the Championship to be held April 15-17 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

“The FIRST Robotics Competition is not just about the design and building of sophisticated robots. These students also develop maturity, professionalism, teamwork and mentoring skills that enrich their lives,” said Fred Breithut, President of School-Business Partnerships of Long Island (SBPLI) and sponsor of the Long Island FIRST Regional Robotics Competition. “Many of our students develop an affinity for their science and math courses, go on to study engineering, technology or science in college, and also pursue employment opportunities with sponsoring companies.”

Over a six-week timeframe students work with their professional mentors to design a robot that solves a problem using a “kit of parts” and a standard set of rules. Once these young inventors create their 130 pound robots, their teams participate in regional competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration and the determination of students. Students received their kit of parts on January 10th and have until February 21st to complete their robot. This year's competition is a game called “First Frenzy: Raising the Bar,” which takes place on a playing field with a mix of robot and human players. Robots and humans alike can earn points by throwing balls into goals, and extra points will be given to the team who ends up with their robot hanging from the pull-up bar in the center of the field.

Since its beginning, FIRST has had a positive impact on students and academic communities. Surveys conducted by the Center for Essential Management Services found that participating students' attitudes about science, math, teamwork and the working world significantly improved after participating. The students' self image also improved, particularly among minority groups. Also, interest in internship and employment opportunities with sponsoring local companies increased.

This season, participating FIRST students are also eligible to apply for over $1.75 million in scholarships from leading universities, colleges and companies that will be announced at the FIRST Championship in April. At the 2003 national championships, Long Island students walked away with over $400,000 in college scholarships. In 2003, Longwood CSD won the Chairman's Award, which is the competition's most prestigious award because it recognizes the team that embodies the goals and purpose of FIRST and best represents a model for other teams to emulate.

SBPLI was founded in 1984 by its President, Fred Breithut, with the goal of developing partnerships between local high schools and businesses that would provide students with practical experience, while helping the business community develop its future workforce. Over 70 partnerships have been formed. In 1999, Long Island FIRST was formed for the purpose of developing a Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics competition. The Long Island Regional has since grown with 37 teams registered for the 2004 competition. The increase in participation among high school students and local business demonstrates the importance of supporting the Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition.

The SBPLI – L.I. FIRST sponsors and volunteers come from some of the most highly regarded companies and organizations in the Long Island region. This year's Co-Sponsors are New York State Senator Owen Johnson, FESTO and SBPLI. Suffolk County Community College is the host and major supporter of the event. Other major sponsors include J.P. Morgan Chase, EDO, School Construction Consultants, Hofstra University, Stony Brook University, Stalco Construction, Park East Construction.

FESTO, a major local corporation and continual supporter provides mentors to a number of local teams. “We have found that this competition truly works to inspire our young people to pursue careers in the engineering field. The students of today are the workforce of tomorrow. We owe it to the communities we live in by helping with this event,” said Hans Zobel, CEO of FESTO.

Breithut of SBPLI – L.I. FIRST would like to ask local businesses to consider joining Mr. Zobel and other Long Island technology leaders in supporting this year's competition. Companies interested in sponsoring the 2004 Long Island Regional Competition or those that would like more information about the Robotics competition can call (631) 207-1057.

* Attached, please find a list of schools to be represented. 
**Photos and Center for Essential Management Services Survey results available upon request.

Long Island School Districts Participating in the 2004 Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition

Nassau County

Carle Place 
East Meadow 
Glen Cove 
Island Trees 
Locust Valley 
Plainview-Old Bethpage

Suffolk County

Bay Shore 
Deer Park 
East Islip 
Middle Country 
Miller Place 
Mount Sinai 
Port Jefferson 
Sag Harbor 
West Babylon 
Westhampton Beach 
West Islip 
William Floyd