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Clarkson First Robotics Team Building Five-foot Tall, 120-pound Robot For International Competition

[A photograph for newspaper use is available at]

Clarkson University’s 2005 FIRST Robotics team, along with 1,000 other teams from around the world, is currently hard at work designing and building a remote-controlled robot as part of this year’s international robotics design competition “Triple Play.”

Each year participating FIRST teams are given design instructions the first week in January and have six weeks to build a robot that meets strict size and weight guidelines and performs a set of designated tasks while competing against other robots in sporting-like events. first2005

“This year’s 'Triple Play’ game poses lots of challenges,” said Clarkson junior and team leader Adrienne Emerson. “The design features a 27-foot-by-54-foot playing field with nine goals, three goals at both ends of the playing field and three goals at midfield. It is like a giant tic-tac-toe board. The robots have to stack red and blue game tetras in or on one or more of the nine goals to score goals and gain ownership of the goal. We have an ambitious work schedule but we have a great team this year and we are looking forward to competing.”

“We built a prototype robot we called 'Titan,’” said Matthew Lee, Clarkson FIRST team member and a senior at Massena High School. “Now we are working on 'Denominator,’ the robot we will actually use in the upcoming competitions.”

Division by Zero, the name of the Clarkson team, this year consists of 25 Clarkson students working with 24 high school students from Salmon River and Massena central high schools. Technical advisors include Clarkson Electrical & Computer Engineering Professor James Carroll; Charles Storrin, a retired supervisor for electrical maintenance at New York Power Authority; and high school teachers Bernie Bissonnette (Massena Central) and Chuck Raiti and Brian Trazkos (Salmon River). The team divides its meeting locations between Clarkson and the high schools. Sponsors include St. Lawrence BOCES, the New York Power Authority, and the American Nuclear Society’s Robotics and Remote Systems Division.

Students interested in operating the joy sticks as the remote “driver” or arm operator during the competitions will undergo driver training supervised by Clarkson mechanical engineering senior and team supervisor John Vielkind-Neun.

The Division by Zero team will participate in two regional competitions: the Finger Lakes Regional, March 3-5 in Rochester, N.Y., and the Buckeye Regional, March 24-26 in Cleveland, Ohio.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a national program that teams high school students with engineers from universities and industry to design and build remote-controlled robots for competition. Its mission is to inspire high school students to pursue college degrees and ultimately careers in science and technology.

Based on the response from some of the high school members of Division By Zero, it is a program that meets its objective. “This is the second year I’ve been involved in this team,” explained Massena student Matthew Lee. “It has been a great experience and has influenced my future career plans. I had thought about going to business school and studying accounting, but I am now planning on pursuing a degree in electrical engineering.”

The Clarkson team has been in existence since 1998. Last year the team had an outstanding season, winning first place in the Long Island Regional Competition and qualifying for the national competition.

Clarkson University also offers FIRST scholarships to graduating high school seniors who have participated on a FIRST Robotics team. Recipients of this merit-based award may enroll in any course of study at Clarkson and receive up to $6,000 per year for four years. FIRST founder Dean Kamen received an honorary degree from Clarkson in 2001.

SPEED receives its primary financial support from Alcoa, Corning, Eastman Kodak, the General Electric Fund, and Procter & Gamble. SPEED was recognized with the 2001 Boeing Outstanding Educator Award and the 2002 Corporate and Foundation Alliance Award for its exceptional contributions to improving undergraduate engineering education.

PHOTO CAPTION: Members of the Clarkson University FIRST Robotics team (L-R) Salmon River High School student Michael Oesterling, Massena High School student Ian Bell, and Clarkson University student Adrienne Emerson are hard at work constructing the robot for the 2005 international robotics design competition, “Triple Play.” The team is composed of 25 Clarkson engineering students and 24 high school students from Salmon River and Massena. The Clarkson team will be participating in two regional competitions in March.

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

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