Teens Exhibit Prowess for Designing and Building 150 Pound Robots that Compete at Long Island FIRST Robotics Regional Competition

Robotics Competition Featuring 38 School Districts Set for March 24th-25th

The School-Business Partnerships of Long Island (SBPLI), sponsor of the Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition announced that high school students from 38 high schools, including 29 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 24th and 25th at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. at the Hofstra Arena from 9:00a.m. to 5:00P.m. on the 24th, and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the 25th. 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) four 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 eighteenth year, the FIRST Robotics Competition in 2006 will reach over 28,000 high-school-aged young people on over 1,125 teams in 33 regional events representing almost every state and several other countries. More than 1,000 students will compete in the Long Island Regional to earn a spot at the Championship to be held April 27-29 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 150 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 7th and have until February 21st to complete their robot.  This years competition is a game called “AIM HIGH.”

AIM HIGH is played with two alliances, one red and one blue, composed of three teams each, competing in each match.  The object of the game is to attain a higher score than your opponent alliance by scoring balls in a center or corner goals, and/or by having robots on a platform at the end of the match.  There are point values associated with each of these actions.  As always, there is a defined period of time during which the robots will operate in autonomous mode.

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 $8.0 million in scholarships from leading universities, colleges and companies that will be announced at the FIRST Championship in April.  Through their participation in the 2005 competition, eight Long Island students applied for and earned scholarships to technology programs from prestigious colleges worth a combined $250,000.  Between 2002 and 2006, Long Island students walked away with over $1,025,000 in college scholarships.  In 2005, Hauppauge High School 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 38 teams registered for the 2006 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. Other major sponsors include Hofstra University, J.P. Morgan Chase, BAE Systems, EDO, Northrop Grumman, DeVry University, and SUNY Stony Brook.

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 2006 Long Island Regional Competition or those that would like more information about the Robotics competition can call (631) 297-8592, or contact Fred Breithut at (631) 692-2962.