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Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

December 27, 2012
Cheryl Reitan | Associate Director of External Affairs | 218 726-8996 |
Andrea Schokker | Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs | 218 726-7130 |
Stanley G. Burns | Professor and Jack Rowe Chair, Electrical Engineering Program | 218 726-7506, 218-525-9441|

FIRST Robotics Competition Kicks Off on January 5 at UMD

DULUTH, MN — The Minnesota High School FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff Event will be held at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) on Saturday, January 5. Introductory remarks about this competition, where teams of teens each build a robot, will be presented at 9 am in Bohannon 90. Between 225 and 275 students, teachers, parents, and mentors are expected and teams representing 18 area high schools will participate. Duluth's East High School, winners in past competitions, will assist with the presentation.

At 9:30 am, a live web feed from NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, will be viewed. The program will explain the details of the 2013 competition and after the live feed from NASA, the teams will pick up their kits. "This is a great opportunity for UMD to help develop an interest in the STEM disciplines among high school students," said Stan Burns, Professor and Jack Rowe Chair, Electrical Engineering Program. Burns is the UMD coordinator and a member of the state-wide committee of the FIRST Robotics competition. "This is an important engineering outreach event for UMD."

The challenge combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It's as close to "real world" engineering as a student can get. Professional Mentors volunteer their time and talents to guide each team. UMD electrical engineering students are serving as mentors for three area high schools.

The term FIRST stands for 'For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.' FIRST's mission is to inspire young people to be leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

Over 100 schools will participate at the Lake Superior Regional FIRST Robotics Competition, which will be held March 8-10, at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC) in Duluth.

NOTE: Media interviews will be given after the NASA web presentation.

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