“BREAKAWAY” Game Revealed by Dean Kamen at 2010 FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, launched its nineteenth FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) season today with the Kickoff of a new robotics game called “BREAKAWAYbefore a crowd of 500 people at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H., hometown and headquarters of FIRST and to the estimated 50,000 around the world via a live NASA-TV broadcast feed and Web cast.

“FIRST
is about giving kids the opportunity to build skill sets like
analytical thinking to then develop what they may or may not use to
build a robot; but they might use these skills to become a scientist,
engineer, or inventor,” said Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder, as he explained how what students learn from FIRST
is very different from other sports. “Ten years from today, one of
these students is going to be out in the world having done something
extraordinary for a major, global problem.”

In the FRC “BREAKAWAY”
robotics game, two alliances of three teams will compete on a
27-by-54-foot field with bumps, attempting to earn points by collecting
soccer balls in goals. Additional bonus points will be earned for each
robot suspended in air and not touching the field at the end of the
match.


Sponsored by NASA, Needham, Mass.-based PTC, and Worcester Polytechnic
Institute, the FRC Kickoff event is an opportunity for teams competing
in the season to see the new game challenge and rules first-hand. Teams
across the nation and in Canada and Israel watched the proceedings via
NASA-TV broadcast or Web cast from 57 local Kickoff sites, many of
which also offered workshops and a chance to meet other teams.

Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST
national advisor and Pappalardo professor Emeritus of Mechanical
Engineering, advised students on how to succeed in the 21st
century noting, “This thing we’re launching today is not about building
a robot, it’s about changing society. Remember Gracious Professionalism,
remember informed thinking, and remember critical analysis – all three,
all the time. If you do that, you will soon have real comparative
advantage.”

The “BREAKAWAY” Kickoff included presentations by FIRST
founder Dean Kamen; PTC president and chief operating officer James E.
Heppelmann; NASA program executive Dave Lavery; FIRST chairman John Abele; FIRST national advisor Dr. Woodie Flowers; and FIRST
president Paul R. Gudonis. The program also featured remarks by Gov.
John Lynch of New Hampshire; Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii; and Gov. Rick
Perry of Texas. The program also recognized this year’s Safety
Animation Award winner, the Burning Magnetos (Team #342) of North
Charleston, S.C., and the 2010 FIRST Safety Video presented by Underwriters Laboratories.

“Today is really about your future,” said FIRST president
Paul R. Gudonis, addressing the thousands of young people attending the
Kickoff. Adding, “And to the thousands more who mentor FIRST participants
within the programs, this is about our future – both immediate and
long-term. We are excited to see what you will accomplish with the
opportunities that come from being part of FIRST.”

During the event, Gudonis also announced the introduction of FIRST Green, a series of eco-friendly programs designed to assist teams in raising funds to defray their costs. FIRST Green will include programs that promote electronics-recycling and energy audits, among others.


“As you set out on this exciting journey, know that you have the
support of your incredible mentors, parents, teachers,” said James E.
Heppelmann, PTC president and chief operating officer. “Support each
other and grow together as a team. You are our future! Stay involved
with FIRST, go to college, strengthen your skills, and develop
great products that will change the world! And this world will become a
better place for it.”

At today’s FRC Kickoff, FIRST teams were shown the “BREAKAWAY” playing
field and received a Kit of Parts made up of motors, batteries, a
control system, a PC, and a mix of automation components – but no
instructions. Working with 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
participate in competitions that measure the effectiveness of each
robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

The FIRST
Robotics Competition is an annual competition that helps students
discover excitement of science, engineering, and technology and the
rewards a career in STEM can bring. More than 45,000 high-school
students on over 1,800 teams from the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada,
Chile, Germany, Herzegovina, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Turkey,
and the U.K. will participate in this year’s 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 more than
1,800 teams – including 278 rookie teams – will participate.
Forty-three regional competitions in the U.S., Canada, and Israel, plus
seven district competitions and one state championship in Michigan,
will lead up to the 2010 FIRST Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, April 15-17.

FIRST
programs are spearheaded by more than 90,000 dedicated volunteers
worldwide, most of them professional engineers and scientists who
mentor the next generation of innovators.

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