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Clarkson, North Country High School Students Prepare For Robotics Competition

Somewhere on the campus of Clarkson University early one Saturday morning, a group of college students and North Country high school students gathered recently in a small, dark room at the Educational Resources Center to receive their instructions via a NASA satellite broadcast.

These students make up Clarkson's 2001 FIRST Robotics team, and over the next six weeks, their mission-which they chose to accept-is to design and build a robot that can succeed at a set of designated tasks.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a national program that aims to inspire high school students to pursue college degrees and ultimately careers in science and technology. The annual robotics competition teams high school students with engineers from industry and universities to design and build a remote-controlled robot that competes in a sporting-like event. The teams do not find out the nature of the competition until early January, and have only six weeks to build the robot, using a common kit of parts.

The Clarkson team, known as Division by Zero, will display their robot's abilities at the Long Island regional competition held March 8-10 at Suffolk County Community College.

In this year's competition, randomly assigned teams are partnered to form alliances just prior to the start of each match. Unlike conventional competitions, the four teams of the alliance work together to score points. The key to this year's competition is cooperation, because each match involves only the four robots in the alliance working together to maximize scoring, not competing against one another. The game's design promotes a culture of "gracious professionalism," which is strongly encouraged by the FIRST organizers.

Clarkson Professor Carroll says there is a pressing need for competitions like FIRST Robotics.

The U.S. is experiencing an increasing shortage of young people who are interested in pursuing careers in technical fields, says Carroll. "FIRST is an excellent vehicle to spark high school students' interest in science and technology, and to open their eyes to the many challenges and opportunities available to them in technical career fields."

FIRST Robotics provides Clarkson students an opportunity to practice engineering design, mentor high school students and help to inspire their interests in science and technology.

To learn more about the FIRST Robotics Competition, visit the official FIRST website at To learn more about Clarkson's SPEED program and the FIRST Robotics entry, contact Tina C. Yuille at 315-268-7976 or .

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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