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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Bart Copeland, Andreas Grabner, Liz McMillan, Dana Gardner, Elizabeth White

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FIRST® ULTIMATE ASCENTSM 2013 Robotics Game Revealed

Inventor Dean Kamen launched the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) season today with the Kickoff of a new robotics game called ULTIMATE ASCENTSM before a crowd of 600 people at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H., hometown of FIRST Headquarters. Nearly 51,000 high-school students in 81 cities around the world joined the 2013 Kickoff via live NASA-TV broadcast and webcast.

(photo of FIRST Robotics Competition team member holding this season’s game element, a flying disc)  ...

(photo of FIRST Robotics Competition team member holding this season’s game element, a flying disc) FIRST flying discs filled the gym at Southern New Hampshire University on January 5, 2013 in Manchester, NH. Inventor Dean Kamen launched the FIRST Robotics Competition season with the kickoff of the new robotics game called ULTIMATE ASCENT. In the game, robotic alliances will compete on a 27-by-54-foot field. Teams will try to score as many discs into their goals during the two minute and 15-second matches. (Photo: Business Wire)

FIRST isn’t about competing, it’s about cooperating, and recognizing that if you have the right tools, you’ll be able to make this world a better place for yourself and for the country,” said Dean Kamen, president of DEKA Research and Development and FIRST Founder, adding, “There is no stimulus package that will have as much return as stimulating a bunch of kids to become the workforce of the future, the problem solvers, the creators of the future.”

The 2013 game, ULTIMATE ASCENT, is played between two Alliances of three teams each. Each Alliance competes by trying to score as many flying discs into their goals as possible during the two-minute and 15-second match. Discs scored in higher goals score Alliances more points. Matches end with robots attempting to climb up pyramids located near the middle of the field.

“For our country to succeed, we must prepare our young people and our workforce for the jobs of the 21st century, and events like this competition are crucial for those efforts,” noted the new governor of New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan. “It is going to be incredibly important as we move forward in this state and in this country that more and more of our young people are prepared.”

Sponsored by NASA and Needham, Mass.-based PTC, the 2013 Kickoff event is an opportunity for teams from all over the world to come together as a community to share in the excitement of seeing the new game unveiled. Teams from 83 Kickoffs in 81 cities across the nation, and in Canada, Israel, and Mexico, among many other locations, watched the proceedings via NASA-TV and were offered workshops and a chance to meet other teams.

“One of the things I like most about FIRST is the transformation that each of you will experience this year. You'll create, innovate, build, and compete. You'll grow by strengthening your real-world engineering know-how. You'll transform yourself into someone colleges will want to enroll, and someone that our 27,000 customers will want to employ,” said Jim Heppelmann, President and CEO of PTC.

John Grunsfeld, Head of Science at NASA, said, “This competition will also be similar in many ways to how we designed, built, and tested the NASA Mars Curiosity Rover now exploring on the red planet,” adding, “NASA looks forward to seeing the innovative solutions you develop and seeing how your creativity might help inspire development of our future spacecraft systems.”

At today’s Kickoff, FRC teams were shown the ULTIMATE ASCENT playing field and received a Kit of Parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC, and a mix of automation components – with no instructions. Working with adult Mentors, students have six weeks to design, build, program, and test their robots to meet the season’s engineering challenge. Once these young inventors create a robot, their teams will participate in 77 Regional and District competitions that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

Explaining a core value of FIRST called Gracious Professionalism®, Dr.Woodie Flowers, FIRST National Advisor, said “Clearly, Gracious Professionalism is contrary to what is promoted by many parts of our culture today. It’s nothing like reality TV, or bullying. It’s not about greed, or ruthless competition. It’s sort of like wise kindness. The gracious part has to do with empathy, helping, sympathy. The professionalism part has to do with knowledge, wisdom, and judgment. The point is that our professional knowledge comes from the brilliance of others. We’re all standing on the shoulders of giants, and we owe others a lift. Society simply does not work unless people can trust those who have special knowledge.”

To find FIRST Robotics Competition events and/or teams in your area, visit www.usfirst.org, and click on the blue block in the top right corner, or visit http://www.connectamillionminds.com and enter a zip code.

About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and more than $16 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.

FRC is an annual competition that helps students to discover the excitement of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and the rewards a career in STEM can bring. Approximately 51,000 high-school students from 16 countries will participate in the 2013 competition.

In 1992, the FIRST Robotics Competition began with 28 teams and a single 14-by-14-foot playing field in a New Hampshire high-school gym. This season, a projected 2,550 teams – including 375 rookie teams – will participate. Fifty eight Regional competitions in the U.S., Canada, and Israel, plus 17 District competitions, one State Championship, and one Region Championship will culminate at the 2013 FIRST Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, April 24-27. FIRST programs are spearheaded by more than 120,000 dedicated Volunteers worldwide, most of them professional engineers, scientists, and teachers who mentor the next generation of innovators.

FIRST and the FIRST logo are registered trademarks of the United States Foundation For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST). LEGO® is a registered trademark of The LEGO Group.

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