2009 NEW JERSEY FIRST ROBOTICS COMPETITION FEBRUARY 27-28: Robots Built by High School Students Headed for “Lunacy” Competition

There’s method in the madness occurring in Trenton at the Sovereign Bank Arena on February 27-28, 2009. The 13th annual New Jersey FIRST Robotics Competition will feature 61 teams of high school students with the robots they designed and built facing off in a game called “Lunacy.”

The NJ FIRST Robotics Competition is free and open to the public on Friday, Feb. 27 and Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, the New Jersey FIRST Robotics Competition will involve approximately 2,000 students from schools throughout the state as well as from Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Maryland and Canada.

FIRST is an acronym for the phrase, “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” and the competition involves more than outscoring opponents in a game. Teams are also judged on design, team spirit, professionalism and ability to overcome problems. To successfully compete in FIRST, teams must function as entrepreneurs, creating business plans, raising funds, marketing and managing the project.

Established by renowned inventor Dean Kamen, FIRST is intended to spark an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Since its inception in 1989, FIRST has grown into an international movement with a wide following.

“FIRST is more than a robotics competition. It’s a proven way to help excite high school students about science, technology, engineering and math,” said Sheri McCoy, Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals Group, Johnson & Johnson, who leads the company’s sponsorship of New Jersey FIRST. “Working side-by-side with mentors who are engineers, scientists, marketers and communicators, high school students discover new career options and learn important professional skills.”

Each year the FIRST organization selects a new theme for the game played in the regional contests and championship. This year’s game called “Lunacy” will involve robots picking up 9-inch game balls and placing them in trailers hitched to opposing robots during a two-minute, 15-second match. Additional points are awarded for scoring a special game ball, the Super Cell, in the opponent’s trailers during the final 20 seconds of the match. The game is played on a low-friction floor, which means teams must contend with the laws of physics.

Six weeks ahead of the FIRST contest season, registered teams receive kits containing parts needed to construct the machines but no instructions. Working with adult mentors, the students design, build and program their robots to meet the game’s engineering specifications. Through the process, they learn how to collaborate and focus on tasks to turn out an effective product.

This year more than 42,000 high school students on 1,686 teams from the United States, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Turkey and the United Kingdom will compete in 41 regional competitions leading up to the FIRST Championships at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta April 14-16, 2009.

“Prowess playing the game is great and FIRST teaches participants how careful preparation and teamwork leads to success, measured in a variety of ways,” said Randy Schaeffer, regional director, New York City/New Jersey FIRST! “They will use a range of skills that give them a glimpse of what it takes to compete in a technologically driven global economy.”

NJ FIRST gratefully acknowledges the long-standing support of Johnson & Johnson as its sponsor. The 2009 competition marks the 13th straight year of Johnson & Johnson’s leadership support. Other NJ FIRST sponsors are ADP, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, MetLife, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

New York City/New Jersey FIRST! is based at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. For more information on starting a FIRST team or sponsoring a team, call Randy Schaeffer, regional director, 973-596-3234.

Public Relations Contact: Rosica Strategic Public Relations

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