“Rebound RumbleSM” Robotics Game Unveiled by Dean Kamen and Host of Celebrities to 60,000 High-School Students at 2012 FIRST ® Robotics Competition Kickoff

MANCHESTER, N.H. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — January 7, 2012 — Inventor Dean Kamen was joined by former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, will.i.am, frontman of The Black Eyed Peas, and a host of other celebrities via video to launch the 21st FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) season today with the Kickoff of a new robotics game called Rebound RumbleSM.” Before a crowd of 800 people at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H., the hometown and headquarters of FIRST®, an estimated 60,000 around the world joined the Kickoff via live NASA-TV broadcast and webcast.

The 2012 “Rebound Rumble” robotics game is played between two Alliances of three teams each. Each Alliance competes by trying to score as many of the basketballs in the hoops as possible during the two-minute and 15-second match. Balls scored in higher hoops score teams more points. Team Alliances are awarded bonus points if they are balanced on bridges at the end of the match.

Sponsored by NASA and Needham, Mass.-based PTC, the FRC Kickoff event is an opportunity for teams competing in the 2012 season to see the new game challenge and rules firsthand. Teams across the nation, and in Canada, Israel, and Mexico, watched the proceedings via NASA-TV broadcast or webcast from 73 Kickoff sites, many of which also offered workshops and a chance to meet other teams.

At today’s FRC Kickoff, FIRST teams were shown the new “Rebound Rumble” game 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 adult 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 Kickoff included presentations by FIRST founder Dean Kamen; NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden; PTC President and CEO Jim Heppelmann; FIRST Chairman Walt P. Havenstein; FIRST National Advisor Dr. Woodie Flowers; and FIRST president Jon Dudas. The program also featured remarks by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report; and FIRST Robotics Competition Director Bill Miller. The program also recognized this year’s Safety Animation Award winner, Arrowbots (FIRST Team #3705) of Brampton, Ontario, Canada, and the 2012 FIRST Safety Video presented by Underwriters Laboratories. Selected quotes below:

George W. Bush, Former President:

“American inventions have consistently improved lives around the world. Through FIRST, my friend Dean Kamen has created a forum where innovation and creativity thrive. Talented young people like you now have the opportunity to apply your talents to science and technology. You are our future science and engineering leaders, and America needs your energy and intellect. I want to thank you for your participation in this important program. I appreciate your willingness to spend your time doing something very important: investing in your future.”

Bill Clinton, Former President:

“You’ve learned things today through this competition that will serve you for the rest of your life no matter what kind of work you choose to pursue. The way this competition is built, you will gain more individually by supporting the efforts of your competitors than you’d gain if you just worked alone. I know it is counterintuitive, but it is powerful and transforming. It’s not just a device to make you show good sportsmanship; it’s a fact of what works in the world we live in today. Globalization means we are more connected than ever before, even with our adversaries, and that it’s crucial that we find a way to work and succeed together. We have to build a future of shared prosperity. I’ve found throughout my career, we can all accomplish more when we collaborate than when we fight. Some of the best innovations have come from totally unexpected partnerships.”

Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder and President of DEKA Research & Development Corporation:

“I don’t think any great innovator or technologist got up in the morning trying to do something really big, really innovative, because they wanted a job. If we create a generation of passionate, smart, well-educated, informed kids willing to take educated risks as they try new things. If we create a passionate generation that understands the power of technology and how to apply it, trust me—they’ll have jobs. That’s a consequence of what they’ll have. If FIRST succeeds, we’ll have a rebirth of a society that believes in a future that can and has to be better than the past. We’re going to make sure we build a 21st century, a future that’s way more exciting than the 20th century.”

Aneesh Chopra, White House CTO:

“When I was at the Championship last year, I knew you understood it wasn’t just about winning the competition. It’s about building for the future. Creating a community that makes our world a better place through advances in technology and innovation. And we can only do that if we build the jobs and industries of the future with a workforce that’s capable in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. You are the workforce to that future economy.”

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