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NASA will be cheering as thousands of students test their engineering
skills for robotics supremacy.

During the month of March, NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project (RAP),
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and
industry partners are holding 33 regional FIRST Robotics competitions
to determine the best high school robotics teams. As part of the
collaboration with FIRST, NASA is providing technical and logistics
support and is the sponsor of six events. Selected events will be
broadcast on NASA TV.

“NASA is constantly seeking out innovative ways to inspire students
and spark an interest in science, technology and engineering. We need
these students to help us build the next generation of spacecraft to
explore the solar system, and the nation needs them to build the
next-generation economy,” said Dave Lavery, program executive for the
Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters. “FIRST and NASA have
found a unique way to create that spark and glean the raw engineering
talent found in our high schools.”

“Currently there are some very challenging technical problems for our
space program, problems that we believe these future engineers will
solve,” said Mark Leon, education director at NASA’s Ames Research
Center, Moffett Field, Calif. “It is all about the math,” he added.

With coordination from the Robotics Alliance Project located at Ames,
NASA Headquarters and 10 field centers sponsor more than 200 teams.
NASA personnel across the country volunteer their time as team

In one innovative partnership, Ames and the Girls Scouts have joined
forces to develop team number 1868, the all-girls ‘Space Cookies.’
The team is comprised of 12 girls from different high schools in the
San Francisco Bay area that have formed a Girl Scout troop devoted to
math, science, engineering and technology.

“Robotics has traditionally been a male-dominated field,” said Wendy
Holforty, NASA engineer and Space Cookies mentor. “We wanted to give
young women as many opportunities as possible to show that they have
the aptitude and capability for the rigorous math and engineering
skills necessary for robotics and other engineering fields.”

“I joined the Girl Scout robotics team because I wanted to gain
knowledge of the different aspects of engineering,” said Tatiana Lam,
a junior at Gunn High School, Palo Alto, Calif. “Instead of reading
about different careers, through this team, we are all able to have a
hands-on experience.”

Regional champions will travel to Atlanta, Ga., to compete in the
FIRST Robotics championship event April 27-29 in the Georgia Dome.

NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project was created to bring together
students, engineers, private organizations and other government
resources to pursue the goal of increasing robotics expertise in the
United States. The project supports programs that inspire students to
become involved with technical fields through robotics competitions,
facilitation of robotics curriculum enhancements and the development
of a national clearinghouse for robotics education and career

The Robotics Alliance Project is supported through NASA’s Science
Mission Directorate.

FIRST was established in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to motivate
students to enter careers in math, science and engineering. The
organization’s mission is to design accessible, innovative programs
to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills. The competition
shows students that the technological fields hold many opportunities
and that the basic concepts of science, math, engineering and
invention are exciting and interesting. FIRST is in its 15th year of

For more information about FIRST Robotics and regional competition
dates and locations, visit:

For more information about NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project, visit: